It was the revelation welcomed by many, albeit questioned by some, when the ‘fat but fit’ campaign first surfaced a couple of years ago. As women of all shapes, sizes and weights stepped forward to display their athletic achievements, many praised the movement for raising awareness that health comes in all sizes and ‘fit’ doesn’t have to equal ‘skinny’.
There was the American mum who finished six marathons and six ‘ultramarathons’ who weighed over 250 pounds. The self-proclaimed “Fat Femme Yogi” who is more flexible, and could hold longer Bikram yoga poses than most of her competitors on social media.
“Anyone can be fit. Weight doesn’t discriminate,” said Richard Weil, director of the New York Obesity Research Center Weight Loss Program at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital.
However, a study that is yet to be published, is set to prove that the ‘Fat but fit’ theory is actually a myth.
The study, by the University of Birmingham, found that people who were obese but “metabolically healthy” were still at higher risk of developing heart disease, strokes and heart failure than people of normal weight.
The findings appear to disprove the idea that if you are overweight but other factors such as your blood pressure and blood sugar are within recommended limits, then you can still be considered as ‘fit’.
Dr Mike Knapton, from the British Heart Foundation, said: “It’s not often that research on this scale and magnitude is able to clarify an age-old myth.”
“These findings should be taken extremely seriously and I’d urge healthcare professionals to take heed.”
He added: “Previously we used to think that being overweight led to an increase in heart attacks and stroke because it raised your blood pressure or cholesterol.”
What was new from this study for me is that it showed that people who were overweight or obese were at increased risk of heart disease even though they may have been healthy in every other respect.”
Just being overweight puts you at increased risk of heart attack and stroke.”
Dr. Louis J. Aronne, director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center also adds, “There are still health concerns when you’re obese, even if you are healthy and able to be very, very active.”
“When you increase your body weight, your risk of diabetes increases quite dramatically. And we know that an increase in body fat is associated with more than 70 illnesses.”
Leading a healthy lifestyle, with a balanced diet and regular exercise, as well as avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol intake is the still the most recommended way to keep fit and lower your risk of the various illness associated with obesity.