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Not All Obese People Are Unhealthy

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Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on August 17, 2011

Not All Obese People Are UnhealthyAre are all fat people unhealthy? Not according to a new study.

In fact, some individuals with obesity may be at lower risk for some diseases than their thinner counterparts.

Researchers from Canada found that obese individuals who had only mild physical, psychological or physiological impairments — or none at all — and who had a higher body weight in early adulthood, were happier with their higher body weight and had attempted to lose weight less frequently during their lives.

Such people were also surprisingly found to have a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular causes such as stroke, heart attacks and heart failures than normal weight individuals.

These individuals were also more likely to be physically active and consume a healthy diet including a lot of vegetables and fruits.

The new study was led by Professor Jennifer Kuk from Toronto’s York University.

Kuk and her research team studied 6,000 obese Americans over a 16-year period to compare their risk of mortality to that of lean people. They used a new weight classification measurement called the Edmonton Obesity Staging System (EOSS), which uses traditional measurement methods such as the body-mass index and waist-to-hip ratios. But the EOSS also takes into account additional factors such as the extent and severity of other diseases like cancer, mental illness, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

In the EOSS classification scheme, individuals who have an elevated weight but no other health issues are placed into a group called Stage 0. Stage 1 individuals have the beginning of some risk factors such as hypertension or high blood sugar that hasn’t developed into diabetes. In Stage 2 individuals have obesity-related diseases that can include hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. Stage 3 individuals have actual organ damage such as a heart attack, diabetic complications, a stroke and depression. They may even have shortness of breath while sleeping.

The new research found those in Stage 0 and 1 of the EOSS had a similar risk of dying as normal weight individuals. In some cases they may even be healthier than those of normal weight.

The researchers suggest the new findings challenge the idea that all obese people need to lose weight, but warn people to consult with their physician before making any decisions related to their health and weight loss.

The researchers say it’s possible that trying and failing to lose weight might be more harmful than just staying at the higher weight level, as long as obese or overweight people exercise and eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.

The WHO says that overweight and obesity are the fifth leading risk for global deaths. At least 2.8 million adults die each year as a result of being overweight or obese.

The study was published Monday in the journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism.

Source: York University

 

APA Reference
NewsEditor, P. (2011). Not All Obese People Are Unhealthy. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2011/08/17/not-all-obese-people-are-unhealthy/28667.html