Heart Risk Factors on the Rise Again
Hypertension, Diabetes, and Obesity Are Increasing After Decades of Improvement
Physical Activity and Obesity
An imbalance in the amount of energy consumed in food and the amount
expended in physical activity is likely a major culprit in the negative risk
factor trends, Ford says. "Addressing this imbalance, by people becoming more
active and eating less, would reduce overweight and obesity, which in turn
would help to lower blood pressure and prevent diabetes."
The study also shows that:
- Trends are similar for men and women, though more women in every survey had
across-the-board low-risk factors.
- Whites had a significantly higher prevalence of low-risk factors than
African-Americans in all but the 1976-1980 survey.
- A larger percentage of whites had a low-risk factor burden than
Mexican-Americans in 1988-1994 and 1999-2004 surveys.
- Vigorous population-based approaches are needed to reverse the unhealthy
shift in risk factor measures.
- Health care providers should have adequate time, resources, and
reimbursement to engage in prevention efforts.
- Work and school represent settings where interventions to reduce risk
factors could be deployed.
Rob M. van Dam, PhD, and Walter Willett, MD, PhD, of Harvard Medical School
and Brigham and Women's Hospital, say in an accompanying editorial that the
findings of this latest survey are disturbing, especially since they don't yet
reflect the effects of the current epidemic of childhood obesity.
"Much potential exists to reverse ominous trends in cardiovascular risk
factors and mortality in the United States, but this is unlikely to occur
without making prevention of overweight and obesity a clear national priority,"