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The Hills Are Alive With Weight Loss

Looking to lose fat? New research led by the Cedars-Sinai Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute suggests heading for the hills — and staying there.

The study, published in the journal Obesity, analyzed data from 31,549 adults in Peru. The prevalence of obesity among men residing at elevations of at least 9,843 feet was 50 percent less than in those living no higher than 1,640 feet. These men also had less abdominal obesity, which is strongly associated with cardiovascular disease.

Other risks associated with obesity include diabetes, hypertension, and several types of cancer.

The ramifications reach around the world, according to the study’s primary investigator, Orison Woolcott, MD, a project scientist at the Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute who previously addressed the relationship between obesity and elevation in the U.S. “Our findings suggest that the association between geographical elevation and obesity extends to different populations around the world,” he says.

Why altitude and obesity may be related also remains a mystery. The researchers speculate that the colder temperatures of high elevations may force the body to burn more calories. Ambient barometric pressure also may be a factor. Another mystery is that women exhibit no correlation between their weight and their altitude of residence. Follow-up studies could reveal more, so perhaps don’t move to a higher elevation just yet.

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