Unexpected News: People Can Be Fat And Fit

It goes against all we’ve heard, yet new research appearing in the European Heart Journal finds that people can be considered obese yet still be physically healthy and fit, and at no bigger risk of either heart disease or cancer than those of normal weight. You may have hard the “fit but fat” descriptions used yourself. It appears that fitness, rather than weight, may be the reason for staying healthier and free of disease according to this largest study of its kind into the phenomenon.

The key appears to be metabolic fitness – an intriguing condition where despite being categorized as obese, there is no high blood pressure, high cholesterol or elevated blood sugar levels. The team of researchers identified this condition after examining data from more than 43,000 US adults (more than a third who were obese) who took part in the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study from 1979 to 2003.

Each subject filled out a questionnaire on their lifestyle and medical history, had a physical exam that included a test of cardio-respiratory fitness and were measured for height, weight, waist circumference and body fat. Blood pressure, fasting glucose and cholesterol levels were also checked. The participants were followed from when they entered the study until their death, or the year 2003, whichever came first.

The University of South Carolina researchers focused on the 18,500 subjects considered obese yet metabolically healthy. At baseline, these people had higher fitness levels than obese subjects who were metabolically abnormal, they also were found to have a lower risk of death when compared to unfit obese people, and no significantly higher death risk than fit, normal weight subjects.

Bottom line? Getting more exercise, even if you’re carrying a lot of extra weight, can benefit you according to lead researcher Dr. Francisco Ortega, currently working at Spain’s University of Granada. Once again a study has shown how important physical fitness is to overall health.

Since most of the study subjects came from a similar background, and most were men, researchers caution us not to apply these findings about fitness and weight to the whole population. The research population used here were well educated, nearly all Caucasian, mostly male and employed in either executive or professional jobs.

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Unexpected News: People Can Be Fat And Fit Continued…

Studies like this bring home the point that it’s not all about how much weight you carry, but rather where this fat is on your body that may be most important. Extra fat around the middle is the most dangerous, most active kind and produces toxic substances that bring on the damage that leads to heart disease. So don’t get too caught up in the number on the scale, or in your clothing, so long as you’re eating a mostly healthy diet and getting regular exercise the odds of staying fit are in your favor.

The findings also suggest that obesity is not necessarily always accompanied by metabolic abnormalities like high blood pressure or bad cholesterol numbers. In other words, being fat may not always mean you’re unhealthy. Doctors might need to take into account fitness level when deciding if an obese patient is at risk of the dangerous conditions we normally associate with too much weight – things like heart disease and cancer.



To your good health,