Americans gain an average of about 1 pound over the holidays, but the bigger problem is that this extra weight does not go away during the year. Over the years, the pounds start to add up, and this is part of the reason that two thirds of the country is either overweight or obese. The excess weight is hard on the heart, and new research finds simply carrying additional pounds in middle age brings greater health risks. Doctors in Sweden studying middle-aged men discovered those who were overweight or obese were more likely to suffer heart attacks, strokes, and premature death. Compared to normal-weight men with no metabolic problems like high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol, otherwise healthy overweight men had a 30% greater risk and obese men had a 200% greater risk of dying prematurely--even if they had no metabolic issues. Researchers say the findings prove obesity on its own is a health problem - possibly due to excess abdominal fat surrounding the internal organs.
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