Heart disease is the leading killer of both men and women; 54% of all deaths result from heart disease. Being overweight or obese or having too much abdominal fat are strongly associated with heart disease risk factors including an increase in total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure. Overweight, obesity, and abdominal fat increase the risk of diabetes, which is a heart disease risk factor.

Being overweight also directly affects risk of heart disease—if your BMI is in the overweight range, your heart disease risk doubles compared to people with BMIs in the healthy weight range. If your BMI is in the obese category, your heart disease risk quadruples. Losing weight reduces the risk of heart disease.