Obesity is a complex disorder involving an excessive amount of body fat. Obesity isn't just a cosmetic concern. It increases your risk of diseases and health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Researchers have been exploring the paradox of “metabolically healthy” overweight or obesity, which describes people who are carrying excess weight without any of the corresponding health problems that typically go along with it.
Is it possible to be overweight or obese and healthy? Yes, just as it’s possible to be normal weight and unhealthy. But is it likely? Probably not, according to the latest research.
Healthy Obesity: What Does the Research Say?
The Times has reported that the idea you can be ‘fat and fit’ is “a big fat myth”.
The term ‘fat and fit’ refers to the hypothesis that if you are obese, but all other metabolic factors such as blood pressure, are within recommended limits, then your obesity will not have a harmful effect on your health.
Health Risks Rose with Increasing BMIs
It should be noted that the study did not find an increased risk of death or cardiovascular problems among those who were overweight and metabolically healthy, compared to those of normal weight and metabolic health. However, it did reveal that everyone with poor metabolic health had increased risk, regardless of their weight status.
However, according to the featured study, health risks did go up as BMI increased, which suggests that as your weight creeps up, so to do your health risks. And even if you’re healthy now, that might not be true for long. As the Los Angeles Times reported:
“When researchers used BMI to line up all of the 61,386 subjects who participated in the eight studies they pooled, they found that, as BMI rose, so rose blood pressure, waist circumference and insulin resistance.
As BMI increased, levels of HDL cholesterol, thought to protect against heart attack and stroke, decreased. Though overweight and obese subjects may not yet have reached the points that define metabolic illness, they appeared to be on that road as their weight rose.”
This study provides more evidence about the known risk factors for cardiovascular disease and mortality. What this study adds is the indication that people who are metabolically unhealthy regardless of their weight are at increased risk. However, interestingly, no increase in risk was seen for the category of people who are metabolically healthy though overweight.