‘Fat but Fit’ a Misleading Myth

middle-aged-weightResearchers say that the idea of ‘Fat but Fit’ is a dangerous myth.

‘Fat but Fit’ is a concept which describes people who are overweight or obese, but don’t have any metabolic health issues such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or type 2 diabetes (insulin resistance).

But a long-term research study has shown the concept to be a misleading myth.

‘Fat But Fit’ Research

A Europe-wide study looked at the relationship between body weight, metabolic health and heart disease in over 17,000 people.  The study examined data over a 12 year period, providing a longer-term look at the relationship between body weight and health.

The results showed that BMI was a definite risk factor for heart disease, independent of metabolic health, although weight is in itself a risk too.

  • ‘Fat but fit’ people – obese metabolically healthy – still had a 28% higher heart disease compared with metabolically healthy normal weight people. So BMI is linked to increased risk of heart disease, even if there are no other risk factors (such as high cholesterol/blood pressure)
  • Metabolic risk factors were shown to be a higher risk for heart disease than weight itself. Normal weight people who were metabolically unhealthy had a more than doubled risk of heart disease than metabolically healthy normal weight people.  So despite being a normal weight, the “not fat but unfit” risk of heart disease was actually higher than the “fat but fit”

Medical Advice

The best way to prevent heart disease, reduce your BMI, and prevent or reverse the symptoms of metabolic syndrome are:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Eating healthily
  • Cutting down on alcohol

Those looking to make major lifestyle changes – starting on exercise regimes, tackling type 2 diabetes through diet, or quitting smoking for example – could seek support from the GP. Especially if there are any health concerns.

For those tackling excess weight, advice from a nutritionist or dietitian can be very helpful in creating tailor-made diet plans.

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