'Overweight and healthy' a myth, scientists say

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, Last Updated: 4:34 PM ET

The idea that a person can carry excess fat and still be considered healthy is a myth, according to new research.

Even when cholesterol, blood pressure and sugar levels are normal excess fat still poses a health risk, a study of more than 60,000 people suggests. It has previously been argued that being overweight does not automatically mean a person is unhealthy as long as they look after themselves in other ways. But the new research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine contradicts this idea.

The study examined findings in published studies that tracked heart health and weight in more than 60,000 adults. Researchers at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital, in Canada, found there was no healthy patter of increased weight when heart health was monitored over the course of more than ten years.

The researchers argue that individuals who appear metabolically healthy while remaining overweight probably have underlying health issues that will worsen with time.

The study’s leader Dr Ravi Retnakaran told the BBC, “This really casts doubt on the existence of healthy obesity. This data is suggesting that both patients who are obese who are metabolically unhealthy and patients who are obese who are metabolically healthy are both at risk of death from cardiovascular disease, such that benign obesity may indeed be a myth.”

The British Heart Foundation classes obesity as a known risk factor for heart disease and the research shows there is no healthy level of obesity.

Doireann Maddock, a senior cardiac nurse, said, “So, even if your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels are normal, being obese can still put your heart at risk.”

She adds that it is useful to think of lifestyle overall rather than specific risk factors, saying, “As well as watching your weight, if you stop smoking, get regular physical activity and keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels at a healthy level you can make a real difference in reducing your risk of heart disease.”

 


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