According to a new study, obese men and women have a higher risk of heart failure and stroke, even if they appear to be healthy without the obvious warning signs like hypertension or diabetes.
The findings that were presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Portugal may be the final nail in the coffin for the idea that people can be both fit and fat at the same time.
Many research studies have suggested that people who are “metabolically healthy” and still obese are simply an illusion.
The research from the University Of Birmingham, involving around 3.5 million inhabitants, showed that approximately 61,000 developed coronary heart disease.
Obesity is frequently measured by BMI, body mass index, which is a ratio of weight to height. It is agreed to be not 100% accurate because sports stars or athletic people can actually have the same readings as others who are obese.
The health professionals examined electronic medical records from 1995 to 2015 in the Health Improvement Network, and they found records of 3.5 million people who were free of heart disease and divided them into categories according to their BMI and whether they had diabetes, hypertension, or abnormal blood fats which are considered to be metabolic abnormalities. Anyone who had none of those conditions was considered to be “metabolically healthy obese.”
The study concluded that obese people who were seemingly healthy in other ways still had a 50% greater chance of heart disease compared to those of normal weight. They also had a 7% increased risk of cerebrovascular disease which can cause strokes and double the possibility of heart failure.
Dr. Rishi Caleyachetty, who conducted the study, said it was confirmed that weightlifters can be healthy and have a BMI suggesting they were obese.
He said he understands the argument that BMI isn’t accurate, however, it isn’t the only metric they use for a proxy to estimate body fat.
Rishi said it is not realistic to use anything else but the BMI index in a regular hospital clinic because of a lack of time and resources to further delve into the details.
While BMI results can be inaccurate, the study showed on a general level that the claim that obese people can be healthy had been proven time and time again to be wrong.
Dr. Caleyachetty remarked, “the priority of health professionals should be to promote and facilitate weight loss,” among people who are overweight regardless of the presence or absence of metabolic abnormalities.
Last August, a Swedish study of 1.3 million men over the age of 30 found that the men who were in good shape at the age of 18 were less likely to suffer premature death than those who were overweight.
Professor Peter Nordstrom, who spearheaded the study, said the results suggested low BMI early in life is more important that high physical fitness regarding the risk of premature death.
Professor Timothy Gill remarked there would always be people who are healthy despite their obesity, just as there are some people who smoke heavily but go through life without getting any lung diseases.