Washington: A team of Swedish researchers has used a new method to investigate obesity and overweight as a cause of cardiovascular disease.
Strong association have been found previously, but it has not been clear whether it was overweight as such that was the cause, or if the overweight was just a marker of another underlying cause, as clinical trials with long-term follow-ups are difficult to implement.
A total of nearly 200,000 subjects were included in the researchers` study of the causality between obesity, overweight and diseases related to cardiovascular conditions and metabolism.
The goal was to determine whether obesity as such is the actual cause of these diseases or whether obesity is simply a marker of something else in the subject`s lifestyle that causes the disease.
"We knew already that obesity and cardiovascular disease often occur together. However, it has been hard to determine whether increased BMI as such is dangerous. In this study we found that individuals with gene variants that lead to increased body-mass index (BMI) also had an increased risk of heart failure and diabetes. The risk of developing diabetes was greater than was previously thought," Tove Fall, a researcher at the Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory, Uppsala University, who coordinated the study together with researchers from the Karolinska Institutet and Oxford University, said.
The results show that an increase of one unit of BMI increases the risk of developing heart failure by an average of 20 percent.
Further, the study also confirms that obesity leads to higher insulin values, higher blood pressure, worse cholesterol values, increased inflammation markers, and increased risk of diabetes.
The research is published in the journal PLOS Medicine.