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Fit But Fat: Is It Really Possible?

You’ve probably heard that obesity wreaks havoc with your metabolism. But is that always true? Is it possible to be fit but fat? To be the picture of health, no matter what your weight might be? To be metabolically healthy and obese at the same time?

Let’s take a look...

What Is Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is a collection of conditions, often occurring together, that increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Key elements of metabolic syndrome are:   

  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood triglycerides (fats)
  • Low levels of HDL cholesterol
  • Insulin resistance.

What Is Metabolically Healthy Obesity?

Metabolically healthy obesity is the idea that a person might be obese (BMI over 30) but still have normal blood pressure, blood fats, cholesterol and insulin sensitivity. Sure, they’re heavy but their health is good.

Does metabolically healthy obesity really exist, though? To put it another way, is it possible to burden your body with many excess kilos without any impact on your health?

What’s The Relationship Between Weight and Fitness?

Exercise has many benefits if you’re overweight or obese. It not only helps you burn calories and lose weight, it also improves your metabolic health by:

  • Regulating fat and glucose metabolism
  • Improving the effectiveness of insulin
  • Lowering blood pressure.

That means you may be overweight or obese but in fairly good overall health. Isn’t it then time to accept your bigger body, and get on with life whatever your size?

Is Metabolically Healthy Obesity Still Bad For You?

It’d be great if weight had no impact on your health. If you could just be happy in a bigger body with no consequences for your overall well being.

There are many reasons why people gain weight, including genetics, eating habits, hormones and stress levels. Obesity is far from simple and should be met with understanding and support not blame and shame.

Part of that understanding and support, though, is accurately representing the medical evidence on the link between weight and health.

Unfortunately, it’s clear that metabolically healthy obesity is still bad for you.

What’s The Problem With Being Fat But Fit?

The ‘fat but fit’ idea has been the subject of discussion and debate for a long time. A new study from the University of Glasgow analysed the details of over 380,000 individuals whose details were recorded in the UK Biobank Project from 2007-2010 then tracked their progress over the next 11 years.

They divided those people into 4 groups:   

  1. Metabolically healthy non-obese people   
  2. Metabolically healthy obese people
    • BMI above 30
    • Scored normal on at least 4 of the following 6 markers:
      • Blood pressure
      • C-reactive proteins (a marker of inflammation)
      • Triglycerides (fats)
      • LDL (bad) cholesterol
      • HDL (good) cholesterol 
      • Glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) – a marker of blood glucose 
  3. Metabolically unhealthy non-obese people
  4. Metabolically unhealthy obese people.

Then they compared their health. They found that people with metabolically healthy obesity (group 2) were at: 

  • Substantially higher risk of diabetes, heart attack, stroke, heart failure and respiratory disease than non-obese people with a healthy metabolic profile (group 1)  
  • Substantially higher risk of dying from any cause than non-obese people with a healthy metabolic profile (group 1) 
  • Increased risk of heart failure and respiratory diseases than metabolically unhealthy participants without obesity (group 3) 
  • Increased risk of becoming metabolically unhealthy within 3-5 years.

How Can Dr Lockie Help?

We can help you understand what’s going on with your weight in a supportive, non-judgemental model of care that addresses the many different reasons people gain weight.

You’ll work with our dietitian to understand food and our psychologist to understand your eating triggers and shift your mindset.

You’ll also work with our perioperative nurse and surgeon on medical or surgical approaches to treating obesity. As your weight decreases, you’re more likely to have a genuinely healthy metabolism and to be fit without the fat.

Please contact us to learn more.

Disclaimer:

All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances and seek a second opinion. Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks.

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