Forget the fact that you may be a size 12 or 14 and can run laps around the smallest person, or can leg press over 300 lbs, or bench press half your body weight, or you don’t have any signs of pre-diabetes, there’s new research out of Canada (remember they gave us Drake and Justin Bieber, can they be trusted?) that says there’s no such thing as “healthy obesity”.
Healthy obesity are those people who may qualify as obese, you know according to the acrhaic BMI chart, even if their metabolic stats are healthy. This week in the Annals (ha) of Internal Medicine, Canadian scientists from the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute in Toronto said even without high blood pressure, diabetes or other metabolic issues, overweight and obese people have higher rates of death, heart attack and stroke after 10 years compared with their thinner counterparts.
“These data suggest that increased body weight is not a benign condition, even in the absence of metabolic abnormalities, and argue against the concept of healthy obesity or benign obesity,” said researcher Dr. Ravi Retnakaran, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto.
The latest study does less damage to the growing suspicion that it’s OK to be overweight – with a body mass index between 25 and 30 – if you’re metabolically healthy. On average, cardiovascular disease and death from any cause was not higher among the overweight-but-metabolically-healthy than it was for those of normal weight who were metabolically healthy.
But even those findings left the question open: There was a trend in that direction. But it was not so robust that the researchers could be confident it wasn’t a statistical fluke.
In the end, that trend may be the most significant finding of all. When researchers used BMI to line up all of the 61,386 subjects who participated in the eight studies they pooled, they found that, as BMI rose, so rose blood pressure, waist circumference and insulin resistance. As BMI increased, levels of HDL cholesterol, thought to protect against heart attack and stroke, decreased. Though overweight and obese subjects may not yet have reached the points that define metabolic illness, they appeared to be on that road as their weight rose.
“Increased BMI is not a benign condition, even in the absence of metabolic abnormalities,” the authors said.
In other “damned if you do, damned if you’re fat according to your BMI” news, Subway is running their $2.99 sandwich deal. Wake me up when research shows just because your BMI is “normal” doesn’t mean you’re not going to die eventually.