20 April 2019
High blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar are three common chronic conditions related to obesity. Photo: Reuters
High blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar are three common chronic conditions related to obesity. Photo: Reuters

Three highs and obesity: the root causes of many illnesses

Warning to those who engage in unhealthy eating habits: you are at risk of the “three highs” and obesity. Together they can cause a wide range of illnesses, with diabetes being the most common.

The “three highs” stands for high blood sugar, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which are closely related to obesity. Factors such as genetics, lack of exercise, and poor diet can all lead to the three highs.

The rate of three highs also increases with age. If the condition of three highs and obesity persists, the risk of getting a stroke and developing cardiovascular diseases will greatly increase as well.

Among all illnesses associated with three highs and obesity, diabetes is the most feared.

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition which is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. Type 2 diabetes is related to the three highs and obesity. It is irreversible yet manageable.

A patient who has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at an early stage usually has had high blood sugar level for about five to ten years. Further delay in diagnosis is likely to result in organ damages.

Type 2 diabetes can be diagnosed in a person as young as 30 as poor eating habits start at an early stage.

There is a common misconception that getting diabetes means living a dull life. In fact, regulating one’s diet does not necessarily mean being deprived of the enjoyment of good food.

Apart from healthy diet, regular exercise can also help diabetes patients control their weight.

Regular workouts can reduce insulin resistance and hence lower blood sugar levels. Aerobic exercises, in particular, can regulate blood pressure and strengthen pulmonary and cardiovascular functions, preventing the complications brought by diabetes.

Doctors will make prescriptions and other recommendations according to the patient’s age, development stage of the condition, and signs of complications.

In mild cases, changes in lifestyle and medications of one to two kinds are enough to stabilize the condition.

With the deteriorating function of an aging pancreas, though, additional types of medications may have to be prescribed.

There are more choices available on the market now, leaving a larger room for doctors to make a prescription that causes minimal discomfort and allows better quality of life.

But of course, prevention is always better than cure. People should always mind their diet, watch their calorie intake, eat more vegetables and healthy food, and consume less red meat to avoid the three highs and obesity.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 30

Translation by John Chui

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]


Specialist in endocrinology, diabetes & metabolism

EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe