Nearly 40 percent of Americans are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and while most Americans know there’s a connection between heart health and weight, new research from Cleveland Clinic shows that most aren’t doing enough to curtail this risk factor.
“Most Americans understand abstractly that being overweight or obese is not good for your health, but it seems we are not grasping that the leading causes of death and disability—stroke, cancer, coronary artery disease—are all adversely affected by increased weight,” says Steven Nissen, MD, chairman of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic. “We need to do a better job of educating patients and the public about the major consequences of carrying excess weight and the benefits of losing weight.”
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After surveying more than 1,000 American adults, researchers found that 65 percent are worried about heart disease due to extra weight—but less than half have made dietary changes to shed excess pounds. The survey also found that 84 percent of Americans have tried at least one weight-loss method in the past and about one-third say they typically stick with it between one week and one month.
“It’s best to work with your physician to develop a steady long-term weight loss plan that will help you keep off the pounds,” says Nissen. “Quick weight loss programs are not effective.”
Some food for thought? Give the Mediterranean diet a try. Its emphasis on fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes and healthy fats makes it the best for heart health.
Here are some other tips to keep your ticker in top form:
- Break a sweat. Get moving for at least 30 minutes a day, whether it’s a single session at the gym or three brisk 10-minute walks.
- Don’t light up. Smokers have about a 70 percent higher death rate from coronary artery disease than nonsmokers.
- Catch some z’s. Aim for 6 hours or more for the best heart protecting benefits.
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