People “can be obese yet physically healthy and fit and at no greater risk of heart disease or cancer”, according to BBC News.
headline stems from a study that was assessing health outcomes for people who
were obese but relatively fit, with only one or no risk factors for “metabolic
syndrome”. Metabolic syndrome is diagnosed when people have multiple risk factors,
such as high blood pressure, that make them more prone to diabetes or
cardiovascular disease (CVDs).
that the “metabolic healthy” obese group were significantly less likely to
develop a CVD or cancer, or die as a result, than people who were similarly
obese but were judged to be “metabolic unhealthy”. In fact the risk of CVDs and
cancers in the “metabolic healthy but obese” group were broadly similar to
people with a healthy weight.
However, the research
should not be interpreted to mean that being obese is healthy. Waist
circumference size is also a risk factor for CVDs, so ideally you should be
aiming to have a circumference of less than 94cm (37in) if you’re a man and
less than 80cm (31.5in) if you’re a woman.
The research actually tells
us very little that is useful in how fitness levels can affect CVD and cancer
risk and whether it is possible to be both "fat and fit".
The main implication of the
research is that factors other than weight need to be taken in account when
assessing these types of health risks.