HOUSTON (KIAH) – Rising obesity rates contributed to a 300% increase in heart disease related deaths over the past 20 years, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. The study was the first to demonstrate that a rise in obesity rates translated into an increase in obesity-related heart disease deaths.

The study also included important findings about who is being most impacted. 

“It seems to be patients who are living in rural populations are most greatly affected. And the one outlier on that would be that among black patients, it was actually black patients living in urban settings that were most impacted by heart disease,” Tresa McNeal, MD, Baylor Scott & White Health.

According to Dr. McNeal, it’s hard to explain why that is the trend. She speculates it could be related to health care access issues.

Public health experts project that in the next seven years, nearly half of adults in the U.S. will be obese.