June 17, 2022

Overweight and Obesity: Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Diseases and Other NCDs

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The Qilo Team
Dr Victoria Abbey avatar
Medically reviewed BY
Dr Victoria Abbey
Weight Loss
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Cardiovascular diseases and other non-communicable diseases are the biggest killers in the world today. They cause an estimated 17 million deaths each year, which is equivalent to nearly half of all annual global deaths. The prevalence of such non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is increasing worldwide and becoming a major public health concern in both developed and developing countries. Although there are various risk factors for cardiovascular disease, the association between excess body weight and NCDs has been well established.

It's true! Not only is excess weight a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but it can also increase your risk of diabetes, cancer, and hypertension.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), being overweight refers to having more body fat than is considered healthy for your height, age, and sex. They simply define overweight as a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 30 kg/m2, while obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 kg/m2 or more. BMI is calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by height in meters squared. So, it's not just about how much you weigh, but also how much of your body is made up of fat.

You might not think your weight is a problem—but if you're carrying around too many pounds, it could be putting you at risk of developing serious health conditions like diabetes or heart disease.

What are Cardiovascular Diseases?

Cardiovascular diseases are a group of conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels. They can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and other serious health problems. Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 17.5 million deaths in 2015 alone. CVDs are the leading cause of death globally.

The different types of cardiovascular diseases include;

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Coronary heart disease (CHD) – is a condition where there’s an inadequate supply of blood to the heart muscle because of narrowed or blocked arteries that carry blood from the heart.
  • Heart failure
  • Atherosclerosis also called atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), includes coronary artery disease, peripheral arterial disease, and cerebrovascular disease such as stroke. ASCVD is due to the hardening of the arteries by plaque deposits, which restrict blood flow through them. This can lead to angina pectoris or chest pain; heart attack; transient ischemic attack or TIAs—which cause stroke-like symptoms but no lasting damage; chronic kidney disease/end-stage renal failure due to cardiorenal syndrome; and sudden cardiac death from ventricular fibrillation.
  • Ischaemic stroke – caused by a blockage or rupture in one of the brain’s blood vessels
  • Venous thromboembolism (VTE) – is a clot that travels through your bloodstream to your lungs, causing shortness of breath or chest pain.
  • Stroke: a brain attack caused by a clot blocking an artery in your brain, or bleeding within your brain itself.

Overweight and Cardiovascular Disease

Being overweight is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and it increases the risk of death from heart disease or stroke. Although you may think that heart disease is a disease of your grandfather's generation, it is the leading cause of death worldwide for both the young and old. Being overweight also affects other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), such as diabetes, cancer, musculoskeletal disorders, kidney disease (nephropathy), diabetes mellitus type 2, liver cancer, and some types of cancers like endometrial cancer in women or prostate cancer in men.

In wondering about the link between overweight and obesity with other cardiovascular diseases. it is important to note that overweight and obesity are the fifth leading risk for global deaths—and they are the leading risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. If you are overweight, your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) is higher than if you are normal weight.

When you have excess body fat, your heart has to work harder. This means that it has more blood to pump and takes longer for the blood to return. As a result, there’s less oxygen reaching your body’s organs—the heart itself included. This puts you at risk of the following:

  • Increased risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Increased risk of heart failure
  • Sleep apnea (when interrupted breathing can occur while sleeping)

As well as other conditions such as diabetes and fatty liver disease.

Causes of Overweight and Obesity

  • Genetics. The genes you inherit from your parents can play a role in whether you become overweight or obese. This may be because certain genes make it easier to gain weight, or because they affect how the body uses energy and calories.
  • Lifestyle habits. Your lifestyle habits can affect your weight. For example, if you eat too much and don't get enough physical activity, you're likely to gain weight over time—and this is true no matter what your genetics say about how much fat your body might carry on its frame.
  • Diet and physical activity patterns. Overweight and obesity tend to run in families and are influenced by diet and lifestyle factors that are learned early in life (such as poor eating habits or lack of physical activity).

Managing Cardiovascular Diseases By Losing Weight

To manage and prevent cardiovascular diseases, losing weight is the best way to go. A healthy diet and regular exercise are essential for maintaining healthy body weight.

The risk of cardiovascular disease is reduced by as much as 80% when you lose 10% of your current body weight. This means that if you're overweight or obese, losing even 5-10 kg could significantly reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Losing weight may also help improve other NCDs like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels.

How To Lose Weight To Control Your Risk

If you are overweight and obese, losing weight may be the best way to reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

But it’s not easy to lose weight. The average person who loses weight will regain two-thirds of it within a year and almost all of it within five years. That's why it's so important for people who are overweight or obese to find ways to change their eating habits and start exercising regularly now—before they have any serious health problems.

The good news is that there are many resources available to help with losing weight, such as books written by doctors and registered dietitians, websites that offer advice on eating healthy food while still enjoying what we eat most (like desserts), and even apps that can keep track of calories consumed. With these tools at your disposal, losing weight should be much easier than ever before!

To maintain a healthy weight, you'll need to eat a balanced diet and get regular exercise. Here are some tips for how to lose weight:

  • Eat a healthy diet: This may seem obvious but eating a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins will help keep your blood sugar levels balanced while helping reduce hunger pains which makes it easier to stick with an exercise plan! A good way to lose weight is by eating less food than you need. Your body uses the excess energy from the food you eat as fuel, so if you don't take in enough calories, your body will start burning fat instead. Try limiting your daily calorie intake so that it's between 1,200 and 2,000 calories per day. If you're trying to cut out junk food like candy bars or cookies from your diet entirely (or at least limit them), try replacing them with fruits or vegetables instead!
  • Exercise regularly! Exercise helps burn calories and build muscle mass—both of which help contribute towards maintaining an ideal body weight for health reasons such as cardiovascular disease prevention! Aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days of the week; this means walking briskly at 4–5 miles per hour (6–8 kilometers per hour). You can also try other forms of exercise such as swimming or cycling if those don't appeal! Just remember not to overdo it—you shouldn't be feeling tired after exercising because then it wouldn't be considered "moderate"!
  • Exercising is key when trying to lose weight because it helps burn calories and fat while strengthening muscles. You can choose an activity that works for you and do it regularly (at least 3 times per week). Some examples include walking, running, swimming, or biking.

Check out more resources here on how to lose weight to manage and prevent cardiovascular diseases.


It has been quite a learning journey! We started by going over the basics of cardiovascular disease, including its symptoms and risk factors. Then we looked at what happens when a person becomes overweight and how this can lead to obesity. Finally, we explored some resources that could help you reduce your weight and therefore your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

In conclusion, there is a strong link between overweight and cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Being overweight can cause type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, that's why it's very important to watch your weight. Being overweight is also a risk factor for other non-communicable diseases like stroke, certain cancers, chronic respiratory disease, and dementia. Several treatments are available to treat obesity in children.

You deserve to live a life free from heart disease, so we hope you feel encouraged and empowered by everything you’ve read here today. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or even scared about any health issues you may have encountered in this process, don’t worry: that just means it’s time to reach out for help! We’d be happy to connect with one of our knowledgeable peers who can get you set up on a path towards better health—just click here to speak with someone now.

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