obesity workplace wellness

Study: Increasing Weight Connected to Increased Heart Disease Risk

We recently reported that U.S. obesity rates are increasing again, which puts focus on efforts of well-run workplace wellness programs and other population health approaches.

The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study titled “Trends in Obesity and Severe Obesity Prevalence in US Youth and Adults by Sex and Age, 2007-2008 to 2015-2016.”

The results: One decade ago, 5.7 percent of American adults were severely obese and 33.7 percent were obese. Today the study notes that 7.7 percent of Americans are severely obese and 40 percent of U.S. adults are obese.

Increased Weight and Heart Disease

Now a new study published in the European Heart Journal looks more closely at the connection between increased weight and heart disease.

The study, titled “The impact of confounding on the associations of different adiposity measures with the incidence of cardiovascular disease,” states: “The obesity epidemic is an emerging public health problem with substantial consequences for health care expenditure and overall quality of life and wellbeing. However, there is a large body of evidence supporting the so-called ‘obesity paradox’ concept, which posits that being overweight or even obese is ‘protective’ of, or has no impact on, cardiovascular (CVD), and overall mortality, especially in elderly individuals or with diagnosed coronary disease or other severe medical conditions.”

The conclusion delivers key information for workplace wellness programs and their efforts to help employees manage health risks.

As MedPage Today reports: “The study, online in the European Heart Journal, showed that among both men and women, as adiposity increased, so did the associated risk for CVD.”

Stamatina Iliodromiti, MD, of the University of Glasgow told MedPage Today: “Obesity has taken epidemic dimensions and CVD is the number 1 disease in the world, so we needed a definite answer about how these are associated. By having access to the U.K. biobank — a fantastic resource of a well-phenotyped, large cohort — we could assess fully how BMI is associated with the risk of heart disease and stroke, as there is a large number of participants in each BMI group.”

As the authors write: “We demonstrated that the J-shape association of BMI with the incidence of CVD, which is in accordance with the findings from other cohorts,6 almost disappeared in subgroup analysis in participants without comorbidities or in the non-smokers, whereas the associations of the remaining adiposity measures with the incidence of CVD were generally unchanged before or after such adjustments. These observations collectively suggest that the observed detrimental ‘impact’ of low BMI on CVD outcomes is likely a result of confounding.”