Study: “Healthy obesity” does not exist

New research suggests that individuals cannot be simultaneously be overweight and physically fit. NBC’s Chief Medical Editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman said that the research indicates that “there is no such thing as healthy obesity.”

Reuters reports that investigators analyzed data from studies that included a total of more than 61,000 participants and that this new study “runs contrary to the results of some recent shorter-term reports, which suggested people could be obese but heart-healthy.”

The Los Angeles Times “Science Now” blog reports that the investigators “found that, as BMI rose, so rose blood pressure, waist circumference and insulin resistance.” Meanwhile, “as BMI increased, levels of HDL cholesterol, thought to protect against heart attack and stroke, decreased.” While participants who were either overweight or obese “may not yet have reached the points that define metabolic illness, they appeared to be on that road as their weight” increased. The research was published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

On its website, Time reports that “since obesity has different effects on the body for different people, researchers are still investigating how weight gain and its health effects may vary among people whose obesity is due primarily to things such as genetics and environmental exposures as opposed to unhealthy diets and lack of physical activity.” The article points out that some of the studies used “in the current meta-analysis” had no “follow-up with the participants, so the final mortality and heart disease rates may be slightly higher or lower than they should be.”

On its website, NBC News reports that the findings appear “to contradict a study published earlier this year, which had concluded that overweight individuals might actually be healthier than those with normal weights,” although “the differing results may simply be due to the fact that the new report looked at different data and at long-term outcomes, experts said.”