Fat Can Be Fit
I read two articles in the same week (in the 12/12 issue of the Duke Medicine Newsletter and in the Tufts Health and Nutrition Letter) that said fat people can be fit, so that means the truth is finally getting out. The original study these articles were based on was described in the 9/5/12 EUROPEAN HEART JOURNAL. If you’re tired of your doctors insisting that you have to lose weight to be healthy, listen up.
The bottom line, based on a study of more than 43,000 Americans, is that although obesity is often associated with disease, a subgroup of obese people don’t suffer from what medicine calls “metabolic syndrome.” The Tufts article, Almost Half of Obese Are Nonetheless “Metabolically Healthy, says that many of these healthy obese people “were found to be more fit than most, regardless of weight…” The upshot is that “obese people are at no greater risk of heart disease or cancer than normal-weight people.”
The Duke article, Metabolically Healthy—And Obese, asks and answers the question of how “the obesity paradox” can be possible. It explains that “Doctors never measure fitness” and describes it as a “surrogate for physical activity.” They go on to say that if you exercise regularly, preferably daily or near daily (example, walking 150 minutes each week), you are likely fit…With fitness accounted for, the healthy obese have the same risk as healthy normal-weight folks do.” Here’s why. Where fat is located in the body is more important than the amount of it we have, that is, fitness helps you not have fat in “unhealthy places including the liver, heart, pancreas, and muscle.”
This is important information for many of you. If you’re overweight, even obese, and exercise regularly, you may be in better shape than you think. Of course, you’d have to check that out via lab and other tests. The point is not to automatically assume that you’re headed for disease and early death because you weigh more than other people. If you’re overweight and don’t exercise, you even may think it’s not worth doing because it won’t help your health as long as your weight is high. Now you know this is untrue.
So consider. Say you haven’t had much luck at becoming a “normal” eater and feel condemned to be unhealthy. For now, you may be better off putting your efforts into getting more regular activity. I’m not saying to give up on trying to improve your relationship with food. But maybe it’s time to work at better health from a different angle, by moving your body more. In fact, becoming fit may be the best move for you to get and stay healthy.