Studies: Obesity Risks Heart Disease, Dementia

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Two new studies link being overweight with the threat of contracting deadly diseases later in life.

One study shows that extra weight around a person's belly can double the risk of heart disease.

"Fat does matter," cardiologist Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, senior author of the study, told The Wall Street Journal. "But it depends on how you measure it. It's mostly about fat distribution and not total fatness."

The study looked at research data collected from almost 16,000 patients with heart disease. Researchers found that the bigger your waistline, the higher your chances are of dying in the months and years after a heart attack or major heart procedure.

The report was published online Monday by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

A second study by a Swedish research team also reveals that middle-aged people who are overweight and not necessarily obese have a 71 percent greater risk of developing dementia.

"Our results contribute to the growing evidence that controlling body weight or losing weight in middle age could reduce your risk of dementia," co-author Dr. Weili Xu of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm said in a statement.

Researchers studied 8,534 twins over the age of 65 in the Swedish Twin Registry. The participants' height and weight had all been measured 30 years earlier. Among the elderly twins, 350 had been diagnosed with dementia and 114 with possible dementia.

The team found found that 26 percent of those without dementia had been overweight in midlife, compared with 36 percent of those with questionable dementia and 39 percent of those with diagnosed dementia.

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