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Are obese people at health risk?

By Ajit Jha     Sep 5, 2012 in Health
All obese people are at a high risk of developing or dying from cardiovascular disease or cancer in comparison to normal weight people. Right? Wrong. Some obese people are exceptions, according to a new study.
Some obese people are metabolically as healthy and fit as any other healthy individual. They are at no greater risk of weight associated conditions than normal people, according to a new study.
The study was conducted by Dr Francisco Ortega, a research associate affiliated with the Department of Physical Activity and Sport, University of Granada (Spain), and his team. However, the project investigation took place at the University of South Carolina (Columbia, USA) under the direction of Professor Steven Blair. The study was published in the European Heart Journal.
The study found some obese people who did not suffer from insulin resistance or diabetes. They were not at risk of developing chronic cardiovascular conditions, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol either. Their level of fitness was much better than other obese people as their heart and lungs performed well.
According to the first author of the study, Dr Francisco Ortega, “It is well known that obesity is linked to a large number of chronic disease such as cardiovascular problems and cancer. However, there appears to be a sub-set of obese people who seem to be protected from obesity-related metabolic complications.”
The uniqueness of this study is that “until now, it was not known the extent to which these metabolically healthy but obese people are at lower risk of diseases or premature death,” said Dr Ortega.
The study revealed that as many as 46 percent of the obese participants were metabolically healthy and were at 38 percent lower risk of death from any cause than other obese but metabolically unhealthy peers. No significant difference was noted between metabolically healthy but obese and metabolically healthy and normal weight individuals.
The information for this research study included data from over 43,000 Americans from the Aerobics Centre Longitudinal Study between 1979 and until they died or 2003. The participants completed a detailed questionnaire that carried questions on their medical and lifestyle history. Their physical examination tested them for cardio-respiratory fitness on a treadmill. Their height and weight apart from waist circumference and body fat percentage were measured. Other measurements included BP, cholesterol and fasting glucose.
The study highlights the obesity paradox. In other words, the study reveals that for obese people (BMI<40) losing weight is bad if they also suffer from chronic illness. Further, the under weight heart patients were at double the risk of dying in comparison to those with normal weight, while over weight and obese individuals carried lower risk.
More about Obesity, Cardiovascular, chronic conditions