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:: Health Conditions - Obesity - Obesity and Diseases

Obesity and the Risk for High Cholesterol and Heart Disease

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If you are overweight, you can lower the risk of developing coronary artery disease by losing weight.
Benefits of weight loss include:

  • Reducing LDL cholesterol.
  • Increasing HDL cholesterol.
  • Lowering blood pressure.
  • Improving your body's use of blood sugar (glucose) and helping to prevent or control diabetes.
  • Lowering triglycerides.
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Even small amounts of weight loss enhance the LDL cholesterol reduction that results from a low-fat diet. A weight loss of 5 lb (2.27 kg) to 10 lb (4.54 kg) can double the LDL cholesterol reduction of a low-fat diet.

Increasing physical activity and reducing calorie intake are the keys to long-term weight reduction. The goals for a weight-loss program need to be practical and individualized.

Losing weight is especially important if you have high triglyceride levels and low HDL levels and are overweight with a large waist measurement (metabolic syndrome). This means more than a 40 in. (101.6 cm) waist for men and more than 35 in. (88.9 cm) for women.

  • If you are trying to lose weight, it is recommended that you lose no more than 1 lb (0.45 kg) per week. This can be done by reducing the daily calorie intake by 250 calories and increasing exercise to burn 250 calories a day (for a net reduction of 500 calories per day).
  • Very low-calorie diets (500 to 800 calories a day) and rapid weight-loss programs usually don't work in the long run and can be harmful.

Cutting calories for weight loss
A low-calorie diet for a person who is overweight or obese provides 500 to 1,000 calories less per day than the recommendation for a person with a healthy weight. You should continue a weight-loss diet for 6 months and then reevaluate your weight-loss goals with your health professional.

Recommendations for a low-calorie diet include:

  • A total calorie intake of 1,000 to 1,200 calories per day for women and 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day for men.
  • Reducing fat to no more than 20% to 30% of your total calorie intake. Fat substitutes such as olestra may be used, but they have not been shown to lead to weight loss. 1
  • Getting more than 55% of your total calorie intake from complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, vegetables, and fruit.
  • Getting 15% of your total calorie intake from protein. This should come from low-fat meat or fish, or high-protein foods such as tofu.
  • No more than 1 alcoholic drink for women and 2 for men per day, with meals.
  • 20 to 30 grams of fiber per day.

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