Health experts are calling it the “global obesity epidemic” with the prevalence of obesity tripling since 1975 according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Health professionals who study patterns of disease, otherwise known as epidemiologists, predict that this will result in a decrease in life expectancy in countries across the world due to the serious health risks associated with overweight and obesity that increase the risk of death and disability. Overweight and obese individuals are at a greater risk of a wide range of health problems including cardiovascular disease (i.e. heart attacks and strokes), heart disease, hypertension (i.e. high blood pressure), type II diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders (e.g. osteoarthritis), liver and kidney disease, and certain types of cancer. This contributes to an overall higher risk of death and disability.
Being overweight or obese has an adverse effect the spine as it is forced to accommodate the extra weight. Carrying more weight around your mid-section otherwise known as abdominal girth distorts the natural curves of the spine and pulls the spine out of alignment. The lumbar spine (i.e. lower back) is pulled forward by the weight around the abdomen, creating an excessive inward curve called lordosis. Similarly, the thoracic spine shifts back to try to support the additional weight around the chest, resulting in an excessive outward curve called kyphosis. The cervical spine (neck) straightens and the head moves into a forward position as a result of the rounding of the upper back.
Lordosis and kyphosis are spinal curvature disorders that compromise spinal movement, which causes pain and stiffness in the body. Ultimately this results in reduced Core Mobility as structures connected to the spine involved in breathing like the ribcage and diaphragm muscle become restricted due to the abnormal curvature. Having good Core Mobility supports important physiological processes in the body that support organ and brain health. Without the coordinated movement of the spine, rib cage, and diaphragm during breathing, these processes become impaired, which can lead to disease and reduced lifespan.
Stiffness and reduced mobility in the spine also translates to stiffness in the aorta, the body’s largest blood vessel, which runs directly in front of the spine. Aortic stiffness has been scientifically proven to be an accurate indicator of all-cause mortality and predictor of cardiovascular disease. Reduced elasticity in the walls of the aorta increases blood pressure which can result hypertension. While our arteries naturally stiffen as we age, lifestyle factors influence this stiffening.
Research has identified obesity as a factor that can accelerate aortic stiffening. The good news is weight loss has been found to reverse the aortic stiffening caused by weight gain. iHeart is a fingertip pulse oximeter that measures aortic stiffness and converts this data into Internal Age™. Unlike a weight scale, iHeart measurements are influenced by blood pressure which change throughout the day as your body responds to different stimuli like food, stress, and physical activity. With positive lifestyle choices like weight loss if you are overweight or obese, you can expect to see improvements in your iHeart results overtime as your body gets healthier on the inside.
Try using iHeart as your guide to choosing the best diet and exercise routine for weight loss as you subjectively assess how your body responds to each new weight loss intervention.