Many of us, myself included, have heard people say “I’m fat, but that doesn’t mean I’m not healthy; I am healthy”, or words to that effect. This argument has been disputed by a University of Birmingham study (presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Porto Portugal) that concluded that it is not possible to be overweight and healthy.
The electronic GP health records of 3.5 million adults between 1995 and 2015 were analysed. All participants were initially free from the metabolic abnormalities: diabetes, high blood pressure and abnormal blood fats [hyperlipidemia]. Metabolically healthy obese individuals were then defined as those participants that did not have any of the aforementioned abnormalities.
Researchers then investigated whether the risk of
developing either coronary heart disease, a stroke, heart failure or peripheral
vascular disease (PVD) was different for normal weight people versus people in
the metabolically healthy obesity group. The results showed that “metabolically
healthy” obese people are still at a higher risk of heart disease or a stroke
than those within the normal weight range.
When compared with individuals of normal weight, overweight participants had increased risk of coronary heart disease (50%), increased risk of a stroke (7%) and double the risk of heart failure.
Lead researcher Dr Rishi Caleyachetty said:
“Metabolically healthy obese individuals are at higher risk of coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and heart failure than normal weight metabolically healthy individuals.
“The priority of health professionals should be to promote and facilitate weight loss among obese persons, regardless of the presence or absence of metabolic abnormalities.”
He also argued that the term “metabolically healthy obesity, was misleading and should be changed, because it is not a harmless condition.