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A new study finds a link between being overweight or obese and the likelihood of engaging in other unhealthy behaviors such as having a heart attack, getting diabetes and having a stroke — something that’s troubling because overweight and obese people have a higher risk of heart diseases.
The study, published online on Tuesday, shows that men who are obese and overweight have a higher likelihood of having two new conditions over the course of a lifetime — like having a heart attack — than men who are not obese. In addition, overweight and obese men are more likely to become obese adults.
The study examined data from more than 7,500 men from the Framingham Heart Study. Researchers analyzed BMI, heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure, and other risk factors, such as smoking, and were able to link them to a total of 1,879 deaths between 1959 and 2002.
“We found one thing, which is an association between obesity and stroke risk, but then also found an association between obesity and cardiovascular disease risk. So they were combining what makes a person obese and those that make a person with heart disease,” said Dr. Arjun Jayaram, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School in Philadelphia who led the study.
Researchers found that obesity at age 45 was associated with an increased risk of having heart attacks at age 55 — although the association was not significant.
The study found that being overweight or obese at age 35 was also associated with a increased chance of having a new incident of heart disease by age 55, suggesting that obesity is a risk factor for heart disease.
The relationship between obesity and cardiovascular disease risk started to change after the first three years of follow-up. But even before that, experts warn that being a body mass index (BMI) of 40 to 49, which is considered overweight, is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, the researchers said.
“If BMI is used as a proxy for body fat, and I’m not sure how to quantify the fat, what you’re really talking about is people who are obese, who are overweight, as opposed to people who are not obese, whose BMI may actually go down, and this is what we find,” Jayaram told Live Science.
People in the Framingham Heart Study have a significantly higher risk of having heart attacks than those who are not part of