Statins’ success may be fuelling obesity crisis by discouraging patients from losing weight, experts say
- Around eight million Britons are taking statins to lower their cholesterol
- The effective protection against heart attacks may distract from losing weight
- This leaves them vulnerable to heart failure, fatty liver disease and arthritis
Statins and blood pressure tablets may be fuelling obesity because they work so well some patients may no longer try to lose weight, experts warn.
Around eight million Britons take statins to lower their cholesterol, and up to nine million are on medications to lower blood pressure.
But the protection against heart attacks and strokes offered by the pills may distract people from taking steps to tackle their expanding waistlines, a provocative article in a medical journal argues.
Statins and blood pressure tablets can offer decades of longer life.
But those living longer while overweight because of such medications are at greater risk of a long list of obesity-linked illnesses such as heart failure, fatty liver disease and arthritis.
Statins and blood pressure tablets may be fuelling obesity because they work so well some patients may no longer try to lose weight, experts warn (file image)
The opinion piece in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology claims modern treatments mean many illnesses are ‘not feared as before’.
Lead author Naveed Sattar, professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow, said: ‘Better treatments like statins and blood pressure tablets… are indirectly helping to fuel the obesity crisis.
‘It is a brilliant success that people are being kept alive for longer, so that someone who might have died at 60 from a stroke or heart attack is living until the age of 75.
‘But if weight is not discussed, that person could end up with multiple health problems linked partly to being overweight and on dozens of different drugs.’
But the protection against heart attacks and strokes offered by the pills may distract people from taking steps to tackle their expanding waistlines (file image)
In the past 40 to 50 years, people in high-income countries such as the UK have become an average of 10kg (1st 8lb) heavier, with around two-thirds of adults in this country now overweight or obese.
Evidence suggests someone with a BMI above 30, who is classified as obese, has 12 times the risk of suffering from multiple health conditions compared with those of a healthy weight.
Professor Sattar added: ‘When someone is put on blood pressure pills, that is the perfect window to think about their lifestyle. But healthcare providers rarely discuss this. We need better health policies to prevent obesity.’
Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, a consultant cardiologist and associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘Decades of research have shown statins and blood pressure-lowering drugs save lives.
If these have been recommended by your doctor, it’s vital that you keep taking them.’