Says a recent publication in Heart Asia, a British Medical Journal

The link between obesity and cardiac disease is not merely anecdotal, there is proof for that. Now, there is further proof that even overweight causes a clustering of risk factors for cardio vascular abnormalities.

A recent publication in Heart Asia, a British Medical Journal, has showed that there is not much difference between the cardio vascular risk factors in obese and overweight people.

“The clutch of risk factors – glucose intolerance, hyper tension, high cholesterol – are all significantly higher among overweight and obese subjects than among normal subjects,” Vijay Viswanathan, MV Hospital for Diabetes and Prof. M.Viswanthan Diabetes Research Center said. He co-authored the article with Shabana Tharkar, also from the hospital.

The study, conducted among two groups - 2021 subjects aged over 20 years, and 1289 subjects aged 8-19 years - indicated that even among overweight, ‘non-obese' people, the presence of major cardiovascular risk factors was not significantly different.

While the total diabetes prevalence among the obese population is 28.4 per cent, among the overweight population is 25 per cent. Again, with hypertension, the value for the obese group is 34.2 per cent, while for the overweight population it is 27.6 per cent. In contrast, the corresponding values are 16.2 per cent (diabetes) and 20.2 (hypertension).

Similarly, the study showed higher values for triglycerides and high HDL cholesterol for both these groups.

Overweight was defined as a Body Mass Index, equal to, or in excess of 25 kg/m2 and obesity, a BMI of 30 kg/m2 or above. Further worrisome is the increasing rate of overweight and obesity among both men and women from 1995 to 2008, across all age groups. Dr. Viswanathan added that this is the result of rapid urbanisation.

“Obesity has already hit the Western world and it is time for Indians to wake up to the alarm bells,” according to the article. Results from previous studies show a lower risk of developing diabetes with just a five per cent initial reduction in weight, Dr. Viswanathan said.

The findings highlight the urgent need for framing direct and indirect strategies to control the rising levels of obesity in the population, in order to substantially reduce the country's non communicable diseases burden, he added.

Regulating the diet, reducing intake of fast foods and high-calorie meals, and upping physical activity and exercise on a regular basis would go a long way in keeping weight under control, diabetologists advise.