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How weight impacts heart health

We're now into February, how is your New Year's weight loss resolution going?

CLEVELAND — If nearly three quarters of us are worried about our weight and concerned about it leading to heart disease, why are so many doing nothing about it?

"Doing nothing is going to shorten your life. It's going to reduce the quality of your life. There are many consequences of being overweight," says Dr. Steven Nissen of Cleveland Clinic. 

A survey at Cleveland Clinic found 1-in-5 Americans incorrectly believe that diet has no impact on heart health. Almost half think using artificial sweeteners is a healthy way to lose weight. 

"Actually the science says that doesn't seem to work, that presumably, when you eat something sweet it stimulates the appetite whether it's a real sugar sweetener, or an artificial sweetener, so that's a huge problem," reports Dr. Nissen.

Results show one third of people believe they need to lose large amounts of weight to improve heart health. 

"There's lots of data to suggest that as little as 5% weight loss can actually lower blood pressure, can improve cholesterol, and can improve heart health," adds Dr. Nissen. 

Many Americans don't realize that fat tissue harms the heart and excess weight is linked to cancer, high cholesterol, stroke, coronary heart disease, and atrial fibrillation. Two out of five people believe exercise equals a healthy heart, even when someone is overweight. 

"There's a lot of misunderstanding about whether you can be fit and fat," says Dr. Nissen. "The data suggests that it's better if you exercise but exercising doesn't make the effects of being overweight go away." 

Dr. Nissen says the best way to improve heart health is to lose weight slowly by consuming fewer calories and burning more.