time workplace wellness

Study Says Time Matters: Manage Obesity Now, Not Later

We know weight matters. What about time?

As well-run workplace wellness programs help businesses manage health costs while simultaneously helping employees improve personal health, we have reported on the importance of managing obesity. We noted a Cornell University study published in Science News titled “Obesity drives U.S. health care costs up by 29 percent, varies by state.”

Said John Cawley, professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell University: “We have, for the first time, estimated the percentage of health care spending that is devoted to obesity, using microdata for each state.”

The report notes that “Overall, the authors found the percent of U.S. national medical expenditures devoted to treating obesity-related illness in adults rose from 6.13 percent in 2001 to 7.91 percent in 2015, an increase of 29 percent.”

Time Matters

Now a new report indicates that while managing obesity is key to managing heart disease (among other factors), it’s important to start sooner rather than later.

MedPage Today reports: “A greater number of years spent overweight or obese is associated with an increased likelihood of heart damage, beginning in young adulthood, an observational study showed.” The study is titled “Weight History and Subclinical Myocardial Damage” and is published in Clinical Chemistry.

The authors write that ” Excess weight is associated with subclinical myocardial damage, as reflected by high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T (hs-cTnT) concentrations, which portends high heart failure risk. However, the association between weight history and myocardial damage is unknown.”

According to MedPage today, the study results showed that “For each decade that a person was obese (BMI>30), the odds of elevated troponin increased by 26%, after accounting for heart disease risk due to high blood pressure, diabetes, and kidney disease.”

This is important information for workplace wellness programs, adding even more urgency to engagement efforts, particularly among employees who may face obesity: Get started as soon as possible.

The authors conclude: “Previous obesity and greater cumulative weight from young adulthood increase the likelihood of myocardial damage, indicating long-term toxic effects of adiposity on the myocardium and the need for weight maintenance strategies targeting the entire life span.”

MedPage Today reports that lead author Chiadi Ndumele, MD, MHS, of the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease said: “We’re finding that people’s weight from age 25 onwards is linked to the risk of more or less heart damage, as measured by levels of the protein troponin, later in life, which underscores the likely importance of long-term weight control for reducing heart disease risk.”