Date Published: 6 October 2006

Evidence to Waist: New Links Between Obesity and Health Risks Revealed

" There is overwhelming evidence that abdominal obesity is a major clinical and public health issue and therefore there is a strong case for routine measurement of waist circumference to screen for individuals at high risk of cardiovascular disease."

Dr Kamlesh Khunti, Senior Clinical Lecturer in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of Leicester, will argue this case at the 2006 Frank May Prize Lecture on Wednesday 1 November.

Obesity has now become a worldwide epidemic. Its prevalence has trebled in the last 20 years, and currently over half of women and two-thirds of men in the UK are either overweight or obese. Cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of death, despite recent advances in cardiovascular care, such as the introduction of new effective drugs.

The overall risk of an adverse cardiovascular event is often driven by multiple individual risk factors, including obesity, dyslipidaemia, insulin resistance, glucose intolerance and raised blood pressure, which are all related to abdominal obesity.

Abdominal obesity, defined by a high waist circumference, is a valid and simple indicator of risk of ill health and a predictor of adverse cardiovascular outcomes. High waist circumference has been shown to be a powerful independent predictor for development of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and sudden death.

Dr Khunti commented:

The prevalence of abdominal obesity is increasing markedly and is emerging as an important underlying cause of multiple cardiovascular risk factors.

_ Health professionals in clinical practice and patients are accustomed to the measurement of weight or body mass index to quantify obesity. However, waist circumference is a better marker for increased cardiovascular risk and there is an urgent need for increasing awareness of the risks associated with abdominal obesity.

 

Source: Leicester University (England, UK).

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