Can You Be Fat But Fit?

Mansi Patil

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Are you working out regularly?

You work out regularly, eat well and yet are over-weight! You blame your metabolism for our weight or your genes for it- but the point is, are you still healthier than normal weight non-exercising people? Is weight really a good indicator for health and future risk of lifestyle diseases?

Are you a Metabolically Active Healthy Obese?

Via – Medical Xpress

There is a lot of controversy regarding the ‘Metabolically Healthy Obese (MHO)” individuals, and that their fitness levels should be taken into consideration while assessing their risk for various diseases. There have been a few optimistic pieces of research describing the importance of regular structured physical exercise over low body fat percentage, though they have yet to be accepted and collaborated with longitudinal studies. The fat-but-fit paradox refers to individuals who are obese or overweight but their level of cardio-respiratory fitness is moderate to high. It has been suggested that fat-but-fit adults are not at a higher risk for cardiovascular diseases like hypertension, heart attacks, stroke etc as compared to their normal weight unfit counterparts. In adolescents and children, the researches have shown inconsistent results.

Is being MHO an advantage?

This has been time and again refuted by experts that MHO is neither a stable nor a sensitive indicator for assessing the future risk of lifestyle diseases like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia etc. It has been propagated that MHO is a point where the risk is still high but the disease has not developed yet.

Benefits of being MHO

The advantage of being active is that MHO is at a lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome when compared with their inactive counterparts. Though the benefits of exercise are nullified when individuals are significantly overweight. It has been observed that there is an increase in lifestyle diseases in individuals who were obese even though they exercised regularly which increases the chances of mortality too. It has also been suggested that a low Body Mass Index at a younger age reduces the risk of diseases in the later ages.

Lower BMI is still important

via – Weedguide

MHO individuals without any other risk factors are considered to be at a point where they have not developed any co-morbidities, but are still likely to develop them sooner than normal weight individuals. Metabolically healthy obesity signals an opportunity for weight reduction, with better chances of achieving a lower BMI and prevention and management of existing metabolic syndrome components.

Cardio-respiratory Fitness matters, but so does weight


Despite some conflicting research, and unexplained heterogeneity in overweight populations in the literature, British and European studies say that, “accumulating evidence is leaning toward the consensus that MHO is not a low-risk state compared with metabolically healthy normal weight. Though they conceded that cardiorespiratory fitness was an important factor for predicting long-term prognosis, thus MHO individuals had better chances at long-term health as compared to unfit individuals. They have also stated that weight cannot be taken as an independent risk factor and has to be considered with cardiorespiratory fitness, CVD risk and metabolic syndrome. “. 

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