Carrying just four pounds too many can raise your risk of heart disease by a fifth, according to new research. Alarmingly, an increase of only one unit of BMI (body mass index), equivalent to 4 to 12lbs depending on height, made the participants 20 per cent more likely to develop heart failure. This is from the Daily Mail…
…obesity also led to higher levels of insulin, higher blood pressure, higher cholesterol and inflammation and more cases of diabetes.
Professor Erik Ingelsson, of Uppsala University, Sweden, said: ‘This knowledge is important, as it strengthens the evidence forceful societal measures need to be taken to counteract the epidemic of obesity and its consequences.’
His team used a new method to investigate the link between weight and cardiovascular disease because, despite previous evidence, it has not been clear whether too much fat was just a marker of another underlying cause.
The study, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, was an attempt to determine whether obesity as such is the actual cause or a signal of another lifestyle factor that triggers these diseases.
Dr Tove Fall, also of Uppsala University, said: ‘We knew already obesity and cardiovascular disease often occur together. However, it has been hard to determine whether increased BMI as such is dangerous.
‘In this study we found individuals with gene variants that lead to increased body-mass index (BMI) also had an increased risk of heart failure and diabetes. The risk of developing diabetes was greater than was previously thought.’
The researchers analysed whether a mutation in the FTO gene, which regulates the appetite and increases an individual’s BMI, was also linked to a series of cardiovascular diseases and metabolism.
This risk variant is common in the population, and each copy increases BMI by an average of between 0.3 and 0.4 points.Since an individual’s genome is not affected by lifestyle and social factors, but rather is established at conception when the embryo randomly receives half of each parent’s genome, the method is called ‘Mendelian randomization’.
To achieve reliable results a large group was required, so almost 200,000 individuals from Europe and Australia were recruited.
Professor Ingelsson said: ‘Epidemiological studies look for associations in large populations, but it is usually difficult to reliably determine cause and effect – what we call causality.
‘By using this new genetic method, Mendelian randomization, in our research we can now confirm what many people have long believed, that increased BMI contributes to the development of heart failure. We also found that being overweight causes increases in liver enzymes. This can lead to liver disease.’
This is the original paper: The Role of Adiposity in Cardiometabolic Traits: A Mendelian Randomization Analysis