“Obese but Fit” is not a guarantee of Good Health

A new trend seems to be sweeping across the country. It is the ‘obese but fit’ look where one appears to be overweight but surprisingly fit. It is easy to assume you are healthy simply because you can run up a flight of stairs without breaking a sweat or bench press twice your weight. But experts say this is misleading.

According to researchers being overweight and healthy are mutually exclusive. It is either one or the other but never both. While your blood pressure, blood sugar or cholesterol levels may appear normal, those excess layers of fat can be dangerous to the heart. It increases the risk of a heart attack by 25%. The results of this research were first published in the European Heart Journal, thus increasing the number of studies emphasizing the ‘obese but fit’ trend.

According to the lead researcher, Dr. Camille Lassale, “Overall, our results challenge the notion of the ‘healthy obese individual.” Dr. Lassale who is an epidemiologist at Imperial’s School of Public Health and currently working from University College London says that their research revealed that individuals who appear to be fit and healthy are still exposed to danger of heart disease.

Past research had shown that overweight or fat individuals who maintain a good metabolic health have a lower tendency to suffer risk of heart disease. However, most overweight people don’t have a good metabolic health. Those who do have been described by researchers as ‘metabolically healthy” and pop culture has dubbed them “obese but fit”.

More studies have revealed this myth to be a lie. The results showed that a healthy weight is critical to preventing premature death. Dr. Lassale and her team of scientists obtained similar results in their research.

The methodology

Lassale’s team analysed the health records from over 7,600 adults who suffered a coronary disease and divided them into various categories based on their metabolic health status and Body Mass Indices (BMI). The health records of 10,000 healthy people were analysed as the control group.

First the subjects were classified as either unhealthy or health, depending of different criteria that revealed their metabolic health status. For example, their blood pressure or blood sugar. After that, they were classified according to their weight; normal, overweight or obese, using definitions stated by the World Health Organisation. BMI values ranging from 25 – 30 are measured as overweight, while any values above 30 falls under the obese group.

The results of the research showed that people with excess weight who might be described as ‘healthy’ have formed an unhealthy metabolic profile. This developed later in the timescale, then an event occurs usually a heart attack. Another researcher in the study, Dr. Ioanna Tzoulaki, also an epidemiologist explained the results.

‘Obese but fit’ is not cool

Sometimes, movies depict overweight bikers or wrestlers who appear to hold their own. They lift massive rocks or hurl themselves over elevated beams. Don’t be fooled, according to Lassale’s study they are at risk. If you know a loved one or friend who is ‘obese but fit’, help them get back into shape as it is scientifically proven to be lot healthier.

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