Study: Obesity Alone Isn't Harmful
A thin person and an obese person each exercise 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Who’s healthier?
Most people would say the thin person; the link between high BMI and cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other health issues is well documented. But a groundbreaking new study shows that people can be obese, but also fit and metabolically healthy, with no greater risk of dying of these diseases than a normal-weight person.
The study, published online in the European Heart Journal, is the largest to have investigated this phenomenon.
Researchers followed about 43,000 American adults between 1979 and 2003. About 18,500 were obese, and of those, 46 percent were deemed metabolically healthy. The obese but metabolically healthy participants were more likely to have good cardiovascular fitness than those who did have metabolic problems, and as a result, enjoyed significantly lower risks of developing cardiovascular disease or cancer. In fact, the obese but otherwise healthy adults had equal risk profiles to the non-obese healthy adults.
The bottom line: According to this study, obesity on its own is not harmful in those who maintain cardiovascular fitness.
For optimal health, experts recommend that adults get 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week. For advice on how to find time for fitness, click here.
—Christine Mattheis, Editor
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