A new study debunks the myth that "healthy obesity" can exist. Instead, the researchers say that those with excess weight who maintain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels and show no sign of diabetes is "not a harmless condition."
The research looked at the health of more than 90,000 women for up to 30 years. The data show that women who carried excess weight were more likely to suffer a stroke or heart attack, even if their cholesterol and blood pressure levels appeared within the normal range.
Women with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25 but displayed no other cardiovascular risk factors were still between 20 and 39 percent more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than women with normal BMIs. For women who were classified as obese, having a BMI of 30 or greater had the highest risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
"Our large cohort study confirms that metabolically healthy obesity is not a harmless condition, and even women who remain free of metabolic diseases for decades face an increased risk of cardiovascular events," said Prof Matthias Schulze, from the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke, who led the study.
The researchers also noted that while younger overweight and obese women may not have had high blood pressure, excess cholesterol, or diabetes, they were more likely to develop those conditions as they aged than the women who were within normal weight range.
"Our findings highlight the importance of preventing the development of metabolic diseases," said Schulze.
"They suggest that even individuals in good metabolic health may benefit from early behavioural management to improve their diet and increased physical activity in order to guard against progression to poor metabolic health."
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