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What You Don’t Know About Obesity Can Kill You

A recently conducted, ground-breaking study found that many Australians are unaware of the obesity-related diseases they have developed.  This study reports that one in five adults who have diabetes do not know it.  One-third have untreated high blood cholesterol.  It also demonstrated that obese adults have a greater risk of developing high cholesterol and diabetes.

For the first time, as the Australian Bureau of Statistics conducted the Australian Health Survey (AHS), they included the results of the National Health Measures Survey (NHMS).  Blood and urine tests were collected from more than 11,000 adults throughout Australia as part of the NHMS.  These blood and urine samples were tested for evidence of a variety of nutrients and chronic diseases.

Obese participants were found to be seven times more likely to have diabetes compared to their normal weight or underweight counterparts.  Obese adults were also four times more likely to have signs of liver disease.

Signs of cardiovascular disease were also much more common among the obese.  They were more than two times as likely to have low levels of good cholesterol.  They were also almost five times more likely to have high triglycerides.  Both low good cholesterol and high triglycerides are linked to heart disease.

The study also found that the signs of heart disease are becoming more common among obese adults under the age of 45.  One in every three obese adults aged 18-44 had high total cholesterol.  Obese adults in the same age group were five times more likely to have high triglycerides than those who were normal weight or underweight.

The ABS reported that, regardless of weight, 5.6 million Australian adults have high total cholesterol.  However, only one in ten were aware of their high cholesterol levels.

The study also found that 3 out of 4 Australians over the age of 45 were at risk of heart disease.  Almost half of participants under the age of 45 were also at risk.

Survey results pointed out that one in five Australian adults with diabetes were undiagnosed.  Four percent of Australian adults have been diagnosed with diabetes.  However, the blood tests conducted as part of the NHMS show found that an extra one percent had diabetes but did not know it.  An additional three percent of adults were found to be at high risk of developing diabetes.

Based on the results of the NHMS, the National Heart Foundation of Australia has requested that the Australian Government begins a national vascular health check program.   The National Heart Foundation reported that only 5 percent of Australian adults, aged 45 and over, receive a heart health check from their doctor.

The National Heart Foundation of Australia highlighted some of the severe consequences linked to the NHMS results.  They said that high cholesterol can lead to heart attack, stroke, and vascular disease.  

The National Heart Foundation also pointed out that one-fourth of the burden of disease and nearly two-thirds of all deaths in Australia are linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and kidney disease.

AusVeg is the representative body for the Australian vegetable and potato growers.  They pointed out that a healthy diet of fresh produce reduces the risk of coronary heart disease by lowering bad cholesterol levels.  AusVeg recommends that Australians eat more fruits and vegetables to improve their heart health.  

Several long-term research studies focused on fruit and vegetable consumption have been conducted around the world.  These studies have consistently shown that adults who eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, have a 20 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke when compared to adults who eat 3 servings or less. 




Image courtesy of Boaz Yiftach /



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