Recent research has put forth a dubious concept called “metabolically healthy obesity.” Basically, it’s a term used to describe obese people whose metabolism performs like that of a person with a normal weight, and who don’t seem to have signs of health problems that often plague obese people (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance).
But the lack of metabolic problems, also know as metabolic syndrome, may not mean that the lucky few “healthy” obese people are doing fine in the long run, according to a new study published in the European Heart Journal. In the review, researchers looked data linking coronary heart disease and bodyweight from a 12-year study on more than 7,500 people. They discovered that people classified as “unhealthy”—those with three or more markers like high blood pressure, waist size over 37″, blood glucose abnormalities—had twice the risk of CHD, no matter their weight.
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People in the “healthy” column, however, showed a big contrast between those of normal weight and the overweight. Overweight subjects (BMI 25–30), had a 26% higher risk of CHD, while the obese (BMI over 30) had a 28% higher risk of heart problems.
“Our findings suggest that if a patient is overweight or obese, all efforts should be made to help them get back to a healthy weight, regardless of other factors. Even if their blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol appear within the normal range, excess weight is still a risk factor,” said study head Camille Lassale, Ph.D., from Imperial College London’s School of Public Health and now a research associate at University College London. “Overall, our findings challenge the concept of the ‘healthy obese.’ The research shows that those overweight individuals who appear to be otherwise healthy are still at increased risk of heart disease.”
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