No matter how confident you feel in a bikini, your obesity puts you at higher risk for heart disease than if you were smaller.

When obese women cite how healthy they are, they often point out their normal-range blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol numbers.

But these values are only the tip of the iceberg. A fasting blood sugar of 75 in very plus-size person doesn’t make him or her healthy.

Of course it’s much better news than if it were 118, but that doesn’t make her healthy and fit in an absolute sense.

Risk of Heart Disease in Bikini Enthusiasts Who Are Very Overweight

Coronary heart disease risk jumps up to 28 percent in obese women when compared to those at a healthy body weight – even if plus-size women have desirable cholesterol, glucose and blood pressure numbers.

“Obesity-related health issues are cumulative over time, and don’t generally happen in the younger age group — unless the person is morbidly obese and has been since childhood or has other health issues,” says Susan L. Besser, MD, with Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore; Diplomate, American Board of Obesity Medicine and board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.

Dr. Besser explains, “The reason relates to visceral fat, the fat that is in the internal organs, not the fat one can see.

“Visceral fat, over time, causes disruption in the function of the organ systems, which is what leads to health issues.”

Words Can Be Deceiving

Studies indeed have shown a subset of clinically obese people who have numbers in the desirable range, classifying them as metabolically healthy obese.

However, a metabolically healthy obese person is still at higher risk for heart disease when compared to healthy weight individuals.

This study result (European Heart Journal, 2017) comes from Imperial College of London and the University of Cambridge, and is a very large study involving data from over half a million people spanning 10 European countries over 12 years.

Excess fat in the body correlates to higher risk of coronary heart disease – even when blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol numbers are desirable.

Arterial plaque buildup. Shutterstock/Explode

You can’t change this fact by wearing a bikini.

Even if a person’s blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol profile are in the normal range, excess body fat is still a risk factor for disease, notes the study paper.

Disheartening Heart Disease Data

• Body mass index of 30+ = obesity.
• BMI of 25-30 = overweight.
• BMI of 18.5-25 = normal.
• Subjects were classified as unhealthy if they had three-plus undesirable metabolic numbers such as blood pressure and triglyceride levels.
• Lifestyle behaviors such as smoking, exercise and diet were adjusted for.
• Subjects in the metabolically “unhealthy” classification had over double the risk of heart disease – whether they were of normal weight, overweight or obese.

It Doesn’t Stop There

In the “healthy” study group, it was found that weight made a difference in heart disease risk.

The “healthy” but overweight subjects had a 26 percent higher risk of heart disease. But obese subjects who were “healthy” had a higher risk at 28 percent.

Just like the adverse effects of sun exposure can take many years to start kicking in, the adverse cardiovascular effects of obesity may take years to start causing serious problems.

Dr. Besser provides comprehensive family care, treating common and acute primary conditions like diabetes and hypertension. Her ongoing approach allows her the opportunity to provide accurate and critical diagnoses of more complex conditions and disorders.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 
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