Dr Hany Abed doing research at the University of Adelaide has shown that obesity directly causes electrical abnormalities in the heart.
Evidence shows that obesity can increase blood pressure, change the structure and size of the heart muscle, the way the heart works, contracts, and its electrical function.
Electrical dysfunction of the heart leads to atrial fibrillation which affects 10% of people over 75 years old.
Atrial fibrillation commonly leads to heart attacks and strokes.
As the population gets fatter, it is predicted that by 2020, over 67% of atrial fibrillation cases will be due to obesity. Overweight men are most at risk for developing atrial fibrillation.
He is studying how obesity affects the heart and if weight loss can reduce the risk of developing atrial fibrillation.
Early results show weight loss can reverse atrial fibrillation.
A study published in Aug 2011 in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that being overweight at 25 years old increased the risk of early death by 21%. That risk went up to 28% if a young adult with a higher BMI (body mass index) also smoked, drank alcohol, or did little exercise.
The risk of early death was higher in obese men compared to women, and African-American women compared to white women.
They found that in all ethnic groups, except in African- American men, the shortened lifespan risk due to being overweight in young adulthood is not cancelled out by later weight loss in middle age.
They conclude that a healthy lifestyle must be established and maintained from an early age.
A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism showed that a patient diagnosed with fatty liver found on an ultrasound exam strongly predicts the likelihood of developing diabetes type 2 in 5 years .
Over 11,000 patients were followed for 5 years . They compared patients with high insulin resistance with and without a fatty liver. Those who had a fatty liver were also found to have other risk factors like high triglyceride and glucose levels, lower HDL cholesterol, excess weight, and hypertension.
They found that even in otherwise healthy individuals, those with a fatty liver found on ultrasound is an independent risk factor for developing diabetes type 2 in 5 years.
A study published in the British Journal of Cancer found that physical activity can reduce the risk of developing polyps by 16%, and developing large or advance polyps by 30%, and the risk of colon cancer by 25%. An analysis of studies involving over 250,000 patients, found less precancerous colon polyps in those individuals who exercised moderately 30 minutes a day. This benefit was found in both men and women. Proposed explanations for this effect is that exercise can boost the immune system and reduces inflammation in the bowel.
Findings published in the August 2011 issue of Hepatology, revealed that obesity may be a frequent cause of chronic liver disease progression. Liver cirrhosis, according to one study, in over 15% of cases, is caused by being overweight. Other studies showed that those suffering from liver disease due to obesity had a lower survival rate than those with viral liver disease.
A study, that followed patients with liver cirrhosis for almost 6 years, found that overweight or obese patients have about a 30-40% increased risk of their chronic liver disease progressing to ascites (increased fluid in the abdomen), variceal hemorrhage( bleeding from abnormal vessels), or hepatic encephalopathy( worsening brain function due to the livers inability to remove toxins from the blood).
According to the World Health Organization, 1.5 billion people are overweight or obese. Further studies are needed to find if weight loss may improve outcomes in chronic liver disease.