Fat And Healthy? Experts Say Not So Much
December 4, 2013

Healthy Obesity Is A Myth, According To New Research

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Can a person be obese and still be healthy? The answer is no, according to a new study, from the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR), that appears in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

According to reports published by FoxNews.com, individuals who were obese but did not have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, elevated blood sugar levels or other metabolic issues were still 24 percent more likely to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular issue, or die from any cause over a 10-year period, versus their normal weight counterparts.

“This really casts doubt on the existence of healthy obesity,” lead researcher Dr. Ravi Retnakaran, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, told BBC News. “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 increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, such that benign obesity may indeed be a myth.”

The study involved 61,000 men and women who were either overweight or obese based on their BMI levels, according to Alexandria Ingham of the Las Vegas Guardian Express. The study found that while it is possible to carry excess weight and not suffer any of the metabolic symptoms typically associated with obesity, being overweight still increases a person’s risk of contracting cancers or other serious illnesses when compared to normal weight individuals.

Yale University Prevention Research Center Director Dr. David Katz told HealthDay News that he welcomed the study in light of recent attention being given by the scientific community to the so-called “obesity paradox,” the belief that some people can actually benefit from chronic obesity. He added that not all weight gain is necessarily harmful, and that it “depends partly on genes, partly on the source of calories, partly on activity levels, partly on hormone levels.”

“However, the report that says people suffering from obesity are not healthy has come under criticism from a number of experts,” Ingham said. One of those individuals, Harvard Medical School assistant professor of medicine Dr. Pieter Cohen, said that blood pressure and high cholesterol were far more important than BMI in determining long-term heart-health, and that based on the study’s own findings, “obesity itself confers an extremely small risk of heart disease.”

Ingham added that there are some issues with the research methodology itself. “The information about the metabolic health was only taken once. This could have changed over the period of the research,” she said. “Considering most of the participants were monitored for a 10-year period at a minimum, it is highly possible that the metabolic health deteriorated, which has led to the heart problems and negative results; not just the obesity factor.”

Back in 2007, a WCRF and AICR study issued a series of recommendations, including that the median adult BMI should be kept between 21 and 23, based on the normal range for different populations. Furthermore, they recommended that the total number of overweight or obese people should be maintained or reduced by the year 2017.