Fat and Fit – Is It Possible to Be Both?
Can you truly be fat and fit at the same time?
You’ve probably thought so. Over the past couple years there have been various talking heads proclaiming that it’s entirely possible to be “fit” even though you’re technically overweight, or obese. However, new research seems to definitively state that being fit and fat are diametrically opposed.
According to a new study, obese individuals are at considerably greater risk for strokes and heart failure. This is the case even though they may not display typical warning signs such as diabetes or high blood pressure (important markers of being “fit”). Presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Porto, Portugal, researchers are looking to end the “fat but fit” claims for those who are obese but still show healthy metabolic markers.
While previous research has aimed to quash the idea of obese individuals being “metabolically healthy,” those studies tended to be rather small in scope. This latest research out of the University of Birmingham involved roughly 3.5 million people. Approximately 61,000 of the 3.5 million were already diagnosed with coronary heart disease.
The Fat and Fit Study
Researchers analyzed electronic health records from 1995 to 2015 for 3.5 million people who did not have coronary heart disease at the beginning of the study and grouped them according to BMI as well as metabolic abnormalities they had, including:
- High blood pressure
- Hyperlipidemia (abnormal blood fats)
Individuals who demonstrated none of the abnormalities were classified as “metabolically healthy obese,” a.k.a. “fat and fit.”
Interestingly enough, researchers found that those who appeared healthy actually had a 50% greater risk of developing coronary heart disease than those who were of normal weight. Additionally, those same individuals also had a 7% higher risk of cerebrovascular disease – disorder that affects brain blood flow. FYI, cerebrovascular disease can lead to stroke and doubles the risk of heart failure.
Some proponents of the “fat and fit” mantra may question the validity of BMI as a metric since it’s been shown to be incorrect when used for high level athletes and bodybuilders. Researchers contend that on a grand scale, the notion of millions who are obese, with no metabolic complications, could be at zero risk for heart disease is flat out wrong.
Lead researcher of the study, Dr. Rishi Caleyachetty, said:
“I understand that argument. BMI is crude … but it is the only measure we have in the clinic to get a proxy for body fat. It is not realistic [to use anything else] in a GP setting or in the normal hospital clinic. We have to rely on BMI measurements, however crude they may be.
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.
At the population level, so-called metabolically healthy obesity is not a harmless condition and perhaps it is better not to use this term to describe an obese person, regardless of how many metabolic complications they have.”
What do YOU think?
Is it possible to be obese yet still clock a good time in the 40 yard dash? Even if your blood work checks out 100% do you really believe being obese doesn’t put you at risk for some sort of health complication down the line?
Leave a comment down below with your thoughts.