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If You are Obese and Have Normal Cholesterol You Will Still Die Sooner

Tracy Woolrich's picture
People who are obese are more likely to die younger

People who are obese are more likely to die younger than individuals with normal weight. Even if you have normal blood pressure, blood sugars and cholesterol but are obese you are still considered unhealthy.

People with a BMI between 30-40 are considered to be obese. Health issues associated with this include type 2 diabetes, hypertension and elevated cholesterol. This can increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. However not all obese people show these signs. They have been considered to be one of the lucky healthy obese. But is that really a true evaluation?

I am considered to be overweight. My BMI has fluctuated over the years however it has not been in the normal range since high school. I have always been very healthy. I did not have hypertension until a few years ago. It was a subtle and slow increase that was not very noticeable month to month. However if you look year to year you can see the pattern. The same goes for my blood sugar. I was always considered to have low blood sugar. When I was pregnant with my daughter I developed Gestational Diabetes. It resolved after I gave birth however ever so slowly my blood sugars have slowly increased. I may soon be in trouble. My cholesterol has always been and remains normal. That is something I have always been proud of. However if I do not lose my excess weight I wonder at what point will that change as well.

The myth of being healthy and obese is just that - a myth. That is according to a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. In the past individuals that were obese yet did not have other metabolic symptoms were considered to have “healthy obesity”.

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This analysis originated from recent interest indicating that there was a unique subset of overweight individuals who appeared to be otherwise healthy with normal lab values and blood pressure. In this research they set out to determine the effect of a person’s metabolic state in relationship to overall mortality and cardiac episodes. The studies included individuals who were normal in weight, overweight and also obese.

Their analysis used data from eight different studies over the past decade of more than 60,000 individuals. Initially all of the groups showed similar health risks. That included the “benign obese”. However, when the researchers looked at the studies that had ten years of follow up care the results were startling. The studies showed that participants in all weight groups with unhealthy metabolisms had a significant risk of death and cardiac complications.

According to Ravi Retnakaran, co-author of the study and endocrinologist, obese individuals are at an increased risk for adverse outcomes, even in the absence of other metabolic conditions. “The main finding is that metabolically healthy obese individuals are indeed at increased risk for death and cardiovascular events over the long term as compared with metabolically healthy normal-weight individuals,” Retnakaran said. “These data suggest that increased body weight is not a benign condition even in the absence of metabolic abnormalities.”

The conclusion is that doctors and the public need to be aware that a healthy metabolism in someone who is obese does not necessarily mean they are healthy and safer in the long term.

Take home message
Learn your Body Mass Index (BMI). It is calculated from your weight and height and provides a reliable indicator of body fat. A normal BMI of 18-25 is ideal. We already know being obese can lead to diabetes, kidney disease, orthopedic issues, respiratory issues, skin conditions and cognitive decline. Add to that social stigma and depression. Now, after reading this, you know that it could be a fatal mistake to assume that absence of any of these factors qualifies you as being healthy. It is time for a lifestyle change that will allow for slow steady weight loss. Your life indeed does depend upon it.

Reference: Annals of Internal Medicine