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 despite being of fatkini proportions, they often point out blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol numbers.
But these values are only the tip of the iceberg. A fasting blood sugar of 75 in a fat woman doesn’t make 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 Fatkini Enthusiasts
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.
The reasoning of the “fat and fit” movement is that in some cases, obesity may raise the risk of these numbers, so if you’re fat but your numbers are great, you must be healthy, especially if you do some form of exercise.
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 new study finding comes from Imperial College of London and the University of Cambridge, and is the biggest study of its kind thus far, 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 heart disease – even when blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol numbers are desirable.
“Even if their blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol appear within the normal range, excess weight is still a risk factor” notes lead author Dr. Camille Lassale in the European Heart Journal (2017).
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” 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.
“I think there is no longer this concept of healthy obese,” says Dr. Ioanna Tzoulaki in the paper.
As a fitness expert and former personal trainer, I have repeatedly posted to fatkini and body positive stories that just because one’s blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol numbers are great today doesn’t mean they’ll be great tomorrow, and that body confidence cannot fight off heart problems.
I’ve also added that youth is on their side, but wait till they get a little older.
Young people often can get away with eating lots of junk and doing little exercise and still have normal numbers – and this protectiveness of young adulthood can occur even in fat bodies.
But even when a 35-year-old is metabolically healthy but fat, they are still dancing on thin ice.
“… people with excess weight who might be classed as ‘healthy’ haven’t yet developed an unhealthy metabolic profile,” says Dr. Tzoulaki. “That comes later in the timeline, then they have an event, such as a heart attack.”
Fitness trainers have been saying this for years! But maybe finally this study will awaken fatkini enthusiasts and other obese people in denial of how dangerous being fat really is – no matter what that blood pressure machine says.
“Overall, our findings challenge the concept of the ‘healthy obese,’” says Dr. Lassale in the paper. “The research shows that those overweight individuals who appear to be otherwise healthy are still at increased risk of heart disease.”