Obesity has always been linked with varying health problems including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. However, being fat isn’t always an indication of being unhealthy. This was the finding of a new study by the University of South Carolina.
“Obesity alone is not a major risk factor”
Researchers followed some 43,000 obese people in the US and analysed their general health, lifestyle, and weight. More than a third of the participants were obese. Of these, there were 18,500 individuals who were metabolically healthy.
Contrary to the popular belief, they found that being overweight alone is not actually a major health risk. Metabolically healthy individuals involved in the study didn’t have diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and were generally healthy as compared with other obese people. They also had lower risk of dying from cancer or cardiovascular disease, like those who have normal weight.
According to the study lead author, Dr Francisco Ortega, who now works at the University of Granada in Spain, their findings show that getting more exercise can keep a person healthy, even if he or she still carries extra weight.
The study doesn’t intend to encourage people to stop dieting and stay overweight. Having a normal weight has many benefits. It promotes proper mobility, better mood, and confidence. People who are slim reported to have higher rate of wellbeing than those who are obese.
Furthermore, the study only involved Caucasians who were from a similar background. Most of them were well-educated, and worked in professional or executive positions. Because of this, the researchers warned that the results may not apply to everyone.
In her comments, Amy Thompson of the British Heart Foundation explained that in most cases, obesity is still a major risk factor for coronary heart disease. But then, the study reminds people of the fact that the weight isn’t really an issue. What’s more important is where the fat goes and how it affects one’s health and fitness.
There are other risk factors for developing heart disease. These include genes, stress, and lifestyle. A recent study shows that even normal weight individuals who slept 6 hours or less are at risk of heart attack.
She also warned people to become cautious about the excess fats in their body, particularly in the mid section. Fat cells on this area are very active. They produce toxic substances that could lead to heart disease. She also pointed out the need to keep track of one’s body mass index. She said relying on the figures shown by the weighing scale is not enough. The BMI will give individuals a better picture of their weight health.
The study was published in the European Heart Journal.
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People can be fat yet fit, research suggests