Heart Health

Updated 11 February 2014

How obesity hurts your heart

Obesity predisposes to raised triglyceride levels and low HDL, both of which are independent risk factors for coronary artery disease.


There is a high incidence of obesity in many Western countries and South Africa is no exception.

Obesity predisposes to raised triglyceride levels and low HDL, both of which are independent risk factors for coronary artery disease (CAD).

In addition, in susceptible individuals, obesity causes insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes which considerably increases risk in affected individuals.

Interestingly, it is mainly abdominal obesity rather than the fat distributed around hips and legs that carries the most risk.

This means that not only is the body mass index (BMI) important, but the waist circumference as well.

The BMI is measured as mass in kilogram divided by height in metres x2.

Body mass index
Normal weight
Grossly obese

Calculate your BMI

Waist circumference is defined as the smallest circumference between the rib cage and belly button. This should be less than 102cm in men and less than 88cm in women.

The causes of obesity are both genetic and acquired. Although there are drugs which can be used in the treatment of obesity, these should be reserved for people who have tried and failed with diet and exercise.

- (The Heart and Stroke Foundation/Health24)


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