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How Are Obesity and High Blood Pressure Connected?

by: Stefan Simonovic

Obesity and excess weight have long been linked to an array of health problems. Being overweight is not just a matter of physical appearance that increases or decreases someone's chances to meet people online or in real life and expand their social and romantic circles, but it's first and foremost a health issue that needs to be addressed from a medical perspective.

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High blood pressure or hypertension is the increased pressure that blood applies to the interior walls of the arteries. The risk factors for high blood pressure include excess weight, excess abdominal weight, and sudden weight gain. Excess weight is easily measured using the body mass index (BMI) in most populations. Normal BMI is 20-25, a person who's overweight has a BMI of 25-29.9, and an obese person has a BMI of 30 or greater.

BMI vs. Abdominal Obesity

BMI is not only important for determining the overall health status of a person, but it's a great indicator of fat distribution as well. Too much fat distribution in the abdominal area is called abdominal obesity. Abdominal obesity is one of the strongest indicators whether someone will develop hypertension, and it’s also among the risk factors for a host of other health problems. Abdominal obesity is defined by a simple waist-to-hip circumference ratio. All you need to do is measure your hips where they are the widest and measure your relaxed abdomen at the navel. Divide the waist value by the hip value and you'll get the waist-to-hip ratio. For men, the risks for obesity, stroke, and heart attack rise as their ratio increases above 0.95, while for women this number is 0.85.

Clearly, measuring abdominal obesity is easy, but doing something about it is a whole different story. Abdominal fat means excess visceral fat, and the only way to lose excess visceral fat is to lose weight. It’s that simple. Going back to basics, the only way to lose weight is to use up more calories than you take in from food. That means smaller meals and much more physical activities.

The BMI is certainly more complex than waist circumference, and measuring the latter is more prone to error. In other words, using both methods to check your body fatness is in order, especially if you’re not planning on getting an MRI, which is the best method to measure visceral fat.

Obesity and High Blood Pressure

Many studies have confirmed the link between the rise in high blood pressure and a considerable increase in obesity among the general population. Around the world, there are at least 1.1 billion adults who are overweight, and 313 million who are obese. The US doesn’t have the stats to be proud of, but neither does the UK, where 66% of men and 55% of women are either overweight or obese. The Framingham Heart study found that approximately 78 percent of hypertension cases in men, and 65 percent in women can be directly correlated with obesity. Although high blood pressure is treated with medication, the single best way to fight the condition is losing weight, which is too often associated with this medical problem.

About the author:

Stefan is a writer and a blogger in his spare time. He also works for First Beat Media, a company that mainly focuses on the online dating niche and similar services.

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