Weight Loss Wednesdays: Type 2 Diabetes, Weight Loss and Heart Disease

Even modest weight loss and exercise can improve your heart health!

This is only my second post for “Weight Loss Wednesdays” and I’m already abbreviating it to “WLW”.  My first WLW post was about the NWCR – click here to learn what NWCR stands for.  Read this post to learn about type 2 diabetes, weight loss and heart disease risk:

Whenever I attend a lecture on obesity, it often starts with a map of the United States.  In one recent example, the map starts out light blue to show that less than 15 percent of the U.S. population was obese in 1988.  The key in the corner of the map indicates that yellow represents 20 – 24 percent, and red represents greater than 25 percent of the population as obese.   It is always shocking to watch the map gradually turn yellow and red, as the presenter clicks through the years up to present-day.  Clearly obesity has been on the rise over the past few decades and type 2 diabetes has risen right along with it.  In fact, about 90% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese.  Along with being overweight, individuals with type 2 diabetes often have other lifestyle and medical factors that can increase their risk of developing heart disease.  These factors include:

  • Cigarette smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • Age (men 45 and older; women 55 and older or postmenopausal)
  • Family history of heart disease, particularly at a young age in a first-degree relative
  • Waist circumference (men 40 inches or more; women 35 inches or more)
  • High triglycerides (fat circulating in your blood)

All of these factors should be discussed in detail with your doctor.  Notice that there are some things you can change, such as your level of activity or smoking.  Other factors, such as your age, you can do nothing about, much as you’d like to try.  I plan to start counting backwards next year when it comes to my age, but my doctor will always know the truth!

The good news when it comes to losing weight is that even a 7-10% reduction in body weight can improve your health and help to reduce some of the factors listed above, such as: waist circumference, blood pressure, triglycerides and blood glucose (sugar).  In addition, if you are losing weight, you are probably more active too.  Simply starting to walk 15 minutes a day and parking further away from the store is a good start for adding exercise into your day.  If you are a smoker, keep in mind that quitting is considered even more beneficial for your heart than weight loss and should be your number one priority to protect your health.

Whether your goal is losing weight or quitting smoking, there is no reason to go it alone.  Start by asking your doctor what resources are available in your community.  A registered dietitian and certified personal trainer can work with you to help change your diet and lifestyle behaviors for the better and start you off with an exercise routine.  However, be sure to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.  Your modest weight loss may not change your state back to light blue, but your heart will thank you for your efforts.

Click on this CDC link to see the U.S. “Obesity” map change before your eyes.  Note: The colors used for this map are a little different from the example used above.

***What goals do you have to reduce your risk of heart disease?  Click on the title of this post and scroll down to leave a comment.***

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