Can You Be Heavy But Healthy? What the Experts Say

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on July 5, 2018 · 0 comments

As the world’s population gets heavier there is concern about the burden this will have on health care costs as well as the wellbeing and the quality of life for those who weigh too much. Some research results have suggested a heavy but healthy scenario known as the obesity paradox. This idea suggests that it might be possible to be overweight or even obese but not be at increased risk for heart disease.

Researchers from the European Society of Cardiology published the largest study to date providing evidence from close to 300,000 people that healthy but heavy does not reduce the risk for heart disease. The people studied were healthy European adults, aged 40 to 69 years old who did not have heart disease at the beginning of the study. They were followed for 5 years.

The results of the study showed being overweight strongly associated with an increased risk for heart disease. Even moderate to vigorous physical activity did not lower the risk for overweight individuals and as weight went up so did risk. The research also showed that overweight individuals with a higher amount of belly fat (measured by waist to hip ratio) were at even greater risk.

This is the largest study ever conducted which strongly links body fat with an increased risk for heart disease. It should be a wake-up call to all health professionals that they need to challenge public misconceptions that healthy but heavy is OK.

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