Obesity Harm Not Gender-Specific

Published Online: Friday, July 1, 2005

Being overweight increases one's risk of heart disease, and it does not matter if one is a man or a woman. Recent studies show that women with "apple"-shaped figures—where most of their body weight rests in the abdomen—are at a higher risk of cardiovascular death, while obese men are at a higher risk for coronary disease. Research also shows that people who are obese are more likely to suffer from a variety of cardiovascular-related disorders, such as hypertension, blood clots, and congestive heart failure. They are also at a greater risk for cancer, degenerative joint disease, and gallbladder disease.

Experts agree that the key to keeping weight off in adulthood lies in childhood. The truth, however, is that the prevalence of overweight children and adolescents today is almost 4 times greater than it was in the 1980s—from < 5% to ~16%. Although many of the greater cardiovascular problems suffered by overweight adults will not surface in today's overweight children for years or even decades, many of these children already suffer from elevated blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea, and type 2 diabetes.

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