Effects of lifestyle factors on cardiovascular disease and diabetes

Obesity and cardiovascular disease

Obesity leads to high blood pressure and the build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries, which lead to cardiovascular disease. It also increases the likelihood of developing diabetes, another risk factor cardiovascular disease.

Being obese - with deposits of lipids in the abdomen - increases blood pressure beyond normal levels and increases levels of blood lipids.

Obesity and type 2 diabetes

Body fat also affects the body's ability to use insulin.

Type 2 diabetes is where the body's cells lose their sensitivity to insulin – they no longer respond, or respond less effectively, to the insulin that's produced.

Obesity accounts for 80 to 85 per cent of the risk of type 2 diabetes. Rising obesity is linked with 'western diet' - a diet that includes energy-rich 'fast foods' and an inactive lifestyle.

The bar charts show the increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes associated with people's Body Mass Index (BMI).

The bar charts show the increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes associated with people’s Body Mass Index.

There is no cure for type 2 diabetes, but it may be possible to control it by diet and exercise.

The risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes can be reduced by eating a balanced diet, with unrefined, unprocessed, 'whole foods', and taking regular exercise.

BMI and waist:hip calculations

Both BMI and the ratio between a person's waist and hip measurements give a generalised view of a person's health. It can be unhelpful to draw too many conclusions from these values, but they are a useful starting point.

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BMI is calculated as: weight (kg) / (height (m))2

Obesity is often defined as a value of BMI above 30.

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Waist:hip ratio is calculated by dividing your waist measurement (in cm) by your hip measurement (also in cm).

The World Health Organisation define obesity in waist:hip measurement as a value higher than 0.85 in women and 1.0 in men.