A study led by Epidemiologist Jared Reis of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute associated with the NIH showed that obesity in young adults increases their risk of developing plaque, which hardens in their arteries, and this plaque can trigger serious complications much later in life, include stroke and heart attack. The article “Longer time being obese leads to coronary disease” was published in USA Today on July 16, 2013.
According to the article, young people suffering from obesity increase their risk of developing plaque-hardened arteries by between 2 and 4 percent for every year that they suffer from obesity. The data from 3,300 subjects over about 25 years was collected in this study. It also says that part of the reason why obese people are more likely to develop hardened plaque in the arteries is that fat triggers inflammation, which allows substances such as cholesterol, blood-clotting substances, and calcium to build up and form plaques in the arteries.
“If there is inflammation in the lining of the coronary arteries, the body attempts to heal that area and may subsequently develop plaque as a way of healing. It’s not healthy healing, but that’s how it heals,” said Dr. Mariell Jessup, a cardiologist who is president of the American Heart Association.
Another study conducted by Dr. Amit Khera of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center showed the risks of atherosclerosis, published in Science Codex on June 18, 2013 as “Atherosclerosis in abdominal aorta may predict adverse cardiovascular events, UTSW scientists report.” The article states that the presence of atherosclerosis in the aorta can predict serious events such as heart attack and stroke, even in patients who are healthy in all other respects. This research outlines the potential long term complications that atherosclerosis can have on patients.
Together these two studies reveal a compilation of findings that continue to tie obesity to long-term negative health. And while adult-onset obesity is a problem in and of itself, the rise in childhood obesity is clearly compounding the issue. While these findings are clear in their own conclusions, the debate will continue on how the medical community and society at large can effectively help to curb obesity in both adults and children.