This same group also thought they were healthy, even though many of them had risk factors for heart disease such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
Ironically, individuals who were actually average or thin thought they were larger than they really were.
"Obesity is not benign," noted study lead author Dr. Tiffany Powell, a cardiology fellow at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. "This underscores the need for us as physicians to understand that we not only need to target those who have misperceptions in clinical settings, but we also need to do work at developing community programs targeting those who avoid the health-care system," Powell said.
"From our data, it looks like those who have misperceptions of body size are much less likely to be seen by physicians," she added.
Two other groups of researchers at the AHA meeting presented yet more reasons to lose weight. In one study, obese patients who lost weight saw a healthy normalization of the chambers in the right side of the heart (although it's unclear if this results in decreased risk for actual heart problems). And in another study, weight-loss surgery reduced the size of enlarged hearts. Enlarged hearts carry with them the risk of heart failure.
There's more on obesity's impact on heart disease at the American Heart Association.
SOURCES: David Crowley, M.D., clinical fellow, cardiology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati; Tiffany Powell, M.D., cardiology fellow, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas; Roger Blumenthal, M.D., AHA spokesman and professor,
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