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You can be fat AND fit, researchers say
September 4th, 2012
07:01 PM ET

You can be fat AND fit, researchers say

"I'm in shape," a friend of mine repeatedly quips at the gym. "Round is a shape."

It's an old joke, but there may be some truth to it. A new study published this week in the European Heart Journal shows it is possible to be both obese and healthy.

"It is well known that obesity is linked to a large number of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular problems and cancer," lead study author Dr. Francisco Ortega said in a statement. "However, there appears to be a sub-set of obese people who seem to be protected from obesity-related metabolic complications."

The study

Researchers analyzed data from 43,265 participants in the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study, which was done between 1979 and 2003.

The participants' body fat percentages were determined using hydrostatic weighing (submersion in water) or skinfold measures, and their fitness levels were tested on a treadmill. Using these criteria, 29.7% of the study participants were labeled obese. Of the obese, nearly half were considered "metabolically healthy."

All of the participants were followed until 2003; 1,779 died during that time period.

Restricting calories may not prolong your life

What's metabolically healthy mean?

Your metabolic health is determined by several factors: High blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL - or good - cholesterol and high fasting glucose levels. For this study, a participant was considered metabolically healthy if they displayed zero or only one of the above symptoms.

Ortega and his colleagues use several terms to describe the study participants who were obese but metabolically healthy. They call it "uncomplicated obesity" or "metabolically benign obesity." Basically that means the obese individuals saw few negative health effects of their extra weight.

The results

The researchers found that the metabolically healthy but obese participants had a 38% lower risk of dying than their metabolically unhealthy peers. There was also no risk difference between the metabolically healthy obese and the metabolically healthy normal weight participants.

"Our study, together with previous literature, strongly suggest that a better cardiorespiratory fitness will make you healthier regardless of your weight status," Ortega told CNN. "These findings clearly support the notion that doing exercise and improving fitness might be an effective public health tool for fighting against obesity."

'The Beast' races to lose 100 pounds

Caveats

As in any research, there are limitations to the conclusions drawn from the results. Insulin resistance - a precursor of diabetes - was not measured in the study participants. The data also did not show how long the participants were obese, which can be an important predictor of metabolic risk, according to the study authors.

Still, one thing is clear to Ortega: "Exercise benefits everyone, regardless of fitness and fatness level. So exercise should be encouraged by doctors to all the patients."

Why you really should get 'Fit by 40'


soundoff (165 Responses)
  1. ProfS

    Right...., fat is a shape...geometrically speaking, and is also not healthy. Stop throwing such stuff in the average american's face...fat is not healthy, is not eye pleasant either. If you don't have the will to lose it, please cover it, we don't wanna see it.

    September 5, 2012 at 08:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • rj

      we dont want to see anorexia people either. That is not healthy – nor is it an eye pleaser. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

      September 5, 2012 at 08:14 | Report abuse |
    • Valerie

      I am so SICK of people implying that if you are not fat, you are "anorexic". DO you people know how SKINNY you have to be to actually BE anorexic??????? MOST people that are not fat are NOT anorexic. Jealous haters. Lose some damn weight. It's unhealthy, and it's ugly. And I am sorry, but that is the TRUTH. How dare you "rj" imply people that TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES are somehow "sick" for doing so??? Would you call athletes in the Olympics "anorexic"? Or a woman that wears a size 4? Huh? So laughable and sad you are.

      September 5, 2012 at 08:47 | Report abuse |
    • Romney 2012

      Projection by the end of Obama's second term:

      Unemployment. 17%
      Debt approx. 38 trillion
      GDP 0 .55%

      September 5, 2012 at 09:11 | Report abuse |
    • They're kidding, right?

      I wonder how much the researchers weighed?

      September 5, 2012 at 09:34 | Report abuse |
    • whorhay

      Well actually this study of 43 thousand participants showed that simply being fat does not make you unhealthy. You can cry about it all you want but that's what they discovered. Of course many fat people like myself could have told them that without the study but I appreciate them doing all that work to validate my opinion.

      I wouldn't say or insinuate that all skinny people are anorexic. But the fact is that the only time I have not been obese by todays standards was when I was borderline anorexic. The last time I seriously tried to lose weight I decided that I wouldn't go the anorexic route again. I ate 1500 – 2000 calories a day and did at least 45 minutes of hard aerobic activity five days a week for six months. I improved my physical ability a lot, I was able to do 60 pushups and 60 situps in as many seconds and run a mile and a half in 12 minutes flat, but my weight only came down about 5 pounds. The only time in the last ten years that I've had bad numbers healthwise, other than just my weight, was when I was not obese but practically anorexic.

      September 5, 2012 at 09:45 | Report abuse |
    • Em

      Yes. Please ignore the scientific study and continue to shame and bully people into inactivity and depression. Go you.

      September 5, 2012 at 10:02 | Report abuse |
    • eroteme

      Fat is becoming the norm these days. It may not be long before we adapt the slogan, "Fat is Beautiful!"

      September 5, 2012 at 10:25 | Report abuse |
    • Godfrey

      Valerie and ProfS: you need to be a little more understanding. There are a lot of things that go into someone being heavier than they should be: genetic factors beyond their control, or environmental factors, both current and during their childhood, that led to bad dietary habits. What chance does some kid like "Honey Boo" (CNN's latest obsession, for which they should be ashamed) have to grow up with a normal, healthy weight? And the older a person gets, the tougher the battle to lose weight becomes.

      I know people who are genetically gifted and who simply "are" thin and muscular, and I know people who work out harder than them who are in great shape but very overweight. Look at the USA women's water polo team: there are some obese women there–I mean huge–who are world-class athletes. It really annoys me when the person with genetic muscularity acts high and mighty toward the heavier person simply by virtue of appearance. It is complete ignorance.

      Trust me, these people have enough to deal with without people like you degrading them further.

      And to you heavy people out there: this study shows that you should exercise simply for exercise's sake. Exercise–athletic exercise, not just going on walks–is like a magic pill. Once you become addicted to it, you see a lot of the physical problems associated with your weight melt away, even if the fat doesn't. Blood pressure, anxiety, lots of little aches and pains... gone.

      So get out there, and don't listen to people like ProfS and Valerie, who don't have the faintest idea what they're talking about.

      September 5, 2012 at 11:06 | Report abuse |
    • Dark Knight

      @ Romney 2012...You cannot even follow the subject and comment appropriately. Please leave your polictical comments on another topic. No wonder I cannot vote for him – his followers are silly.

      September 5, 2012 at 11:23 | Report abuse |
    • priorities

      Speak for yourself ProfS. Not everyone is so shallow and superficial that they would ask others to cover up because they are not pleasing enough to their eyes and so arrogant as to use "we" presuming everyone feels the same way. I value character and personality over weight and looks and don't believe I or anyone else have the right to judge someone on their appearance and tell them to "cover up" for my sake and thankfully I know I'm not alone. And before you go where everyone of your kind usually goes when faced with the truth about themselves let me save you the trouble. I am not fat. I eat well and strive to stay in my healthy weight range. However I do have people (women especially) in my family who were very big women and yet they were always healthy and died in their late eighties or nineties so I'm not surprised by the results of the study.

      September 5, 2012 at 12:11 | Report abuse |
    • jim86

      Yes, and please no muffin tops!

      September 6, 2012 at 08:30 | Report abuse |
  2. iceload9

    Heavy people who exercise are really threatening to normal weight people.

    September 5, 2012 at 08:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • just me

      You're right. Health and exercise are not specific to the slender/skinny/bony.
      Personally I like some meat on a person – male or femaile. When I hug a friend, I don't want to feel bone. Well, boney limbs!

      September 5, 2012 at 10:41 | Report abuse |
    • Orly?

      Fat isn't "meat". It's fat. And when I hug someone, I'm just as put off by fat folds as by pointy bones...

      And wow... "You're right. Health and exercise are not specific to the slender/skinny/bony". The only people who think boney = healthy/fit are people with eating disorders and fatties. Why am I so incendiary? Because I detest misleading information.

      September 5, 2012 at 12:51 | Report abuse |
  3. You can be dumb, and convinced you're smart,

    says the news media.

    September 5, 2012 at 08:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Godfrey

      You can also be boring and convinced you're funny...

      September 5, 2012 at 11:08 | Report abuse |
  4. Jack Johnson

    Take the fork out of your mouth. That helps.

    September 5, 2012 at 08:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • John Jackson

      I don't disagree with what my nemesis said.

      September 5, 2012 at 11:46 | Report abuse |
  5. KWDragon

    Beauty and physical attractiveness are not what is important about a person; however, good health is vital. It pains me that people still think it is okay to judge the appearances of others, as if they were Adonises and Aphrodites themselves. You can be fit, trim and still ugly, inside and out.

    September 5, 2012 at 08:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TRACK

      Thank you! Beauty n the i of the beholder, no matter what size...

      September 5, 2012 at 09:22 | Report abuse |
    • Liar Liar

      Reread the article. It doesn't refer to ugly people in any way. It is about obesity.

      September 5, 2012 at 09:25 | Report abuse |
    • kat

      You ever see what people look like before and after they lose weight? I'm not saying thin people are more beautiful per se, but fat really covers up whatever structure is under there. When you've got an obese person, you have no clue whether there's a hot or average looking person under there. Interestingly, a lot of the time, it's a hot person!

      September 5, 2012 at 09:45 | Report abuse |
    • StPaulie

      kat – so the only people that are "hot" in your opinion are skinny? Such a sad way of looking at people. I'm glad that we have all sizes and shapes of people. It's rather boring if we all look the same.

      Remember that just because you don't find someone "hot" doesn't mean someone else doesn't. I don't like tattoos. So a guy with a lot of tattoos isn't hot to me. Many of the young male stars these days who everyone seems to think are hot are not attractive to me in the least. That's just my opinion.

      Have you ever met someone who you didn't think was good looking but you got to know them anyway and after a while you think they're cute? It's amazing how your perspective can change about someone when you know who they are, not just what they look like.

      Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as others have mentioned. I just hope that those who think it's ALL about looks don't have any illness in their future as their looks might suffer. Then what are they left with?

      September 5, 2012 at 11:21 | Report abuse |
    • JudgeDB

      I disagree that admitting that you don't find fat people physically attractive is sad. You aren't really in control of what you find physically attractive. What is sad is trying to shame people for not being physically attracted to obesity. Yes, there is much much more to people than their physical appearance, but physical attraction plays a large role in our lives. Personally, I'm not in the best shape I've ever been in, but I still do not find obese people to be physically attractive. That doesn't make me shallow or a bad person. It makes me just as human as people who do find obesity attractive.

      September 5, 2012 at 11:52 | Report abuse |
    • Seyedibar

      Attractiveness is a nothing more than a subconscious marker of how fit and healthy a person is. Attractiveness serves many functions in society and in our heads. We are turned off by obesity because it is a instinctual reminder to our brains that this person does not make a suitable breeding mate, carries a disease, or cannot physically protect their family adequately.

      September 5, 2012 at 12:38 | Report abuse |
    • StPaulie

      JudgeDB and Seyedibar – you both missed my point. kat was indicating that you could only be "hot" if you were skinny and even if you are skinny you could still be "average". We all have different tastes but writing off a whole group of people because they look different than you want them to is just silly. I am seeing someone who thinks I'm very hot but you would find me lacking. That's fine. I think the same about you.

      Our focus on looks is what is causing teenagers to want plastic surgery. And some women feel compelled to get breast enhancement just so they can feel attractive. None of us will ever live up to what is shown in the magazines because they are all airbrushed to be someone's idea of "perfect".

      If at some point I choose to lose weight again, it will be my decision, not yours. We never know what will happen to us in life and I think the focus on looks is not healthy. I've seen many a gorgeous package that when you open it all you want to do is close the box. If someone doesn't have a balance of inner and outer beauty, then they're missing a lot.

      Many years ago I was getting to know someone over the phone who I had met online. He had sent a picture and said it was an old one but he didn't tell me how old it was. When I went out to visit him and got off the plane, I almost turned around because he was much, much larger than his picture. Thank goodness I was able to settle my mind and spend the week as he was the kindest, most thoughtful person I've spent time with. The distance finally drove us apart but I still have precious memories.

      As Judge Judy says: "Beauty fades, dumb is forever". If you expect a person's outer beauty to be with them their whole life, then you're living in a dream world.

      September 6, 2012 at 14:26 | Report abuse |
  6. Mike

    Maybe they are temporarily metabolically healthy. However, being overweight still has an adverse effect on your joints and skeletal system. Also, some obese people actually have to have their innerds (guts, etc) sown back in because the fat pushes them out of place. Not pretty and not healthy

    September 5, 2012 at 08:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jeff

      Why do you say "temporarily" metabolically healthy? Heavy people can't consistently be in shape?

      September 5, 2012 at 11:01 | Report abuse |
    • Orly?

      @ Jeff

      No, they can't if by "in shape" you mean physically fit. It's great that some overweight and obese people can enjoy relative health from normal blood pressure and low cholesterol, but that extra adipose tissue is still no good for any type of exercise other than sumo wrestling (and seriously, how many sumo wrestlers do we have in these comment sections). No matter how you choose to look at it, the excess fat weighs you down. It makes you slower. Puts extra pressure on your joints. Restricts your movements and reflexes.

      If taking an occasional 1 mile powerwalk and being able to ascend 4 flights of stairs without needing a break halfway through is all you aspire to, then so be it. But drop the illusion that excess fat does anything BUT diminish your fitness.

      September 5, 2012 at 13:43 | Report abuse |
  7. BillRubin

    We already know that the primary cardiovascular risk factors are smoking, blood pressure, lipid profile, family history, and blood sugar. Obesity is not on that list, it is a secondary risk factor. This study is in keeping with that train of thought.

    September 5, 2012 at 08:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Valentijn

    "Exercise benefits everyone, regardless of fitness and fatness level. So exercise should be encouraged by doctors to all the patients." No, it doesn't. Some people get very very sick from exercise. I know it's not common, but these asinine blanket statments do not make it any easier to be part of the small minority with this problem.

    September 5, 2012 at 09:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BigBoy

      Let me guess the symptoms of these people that get sick from exercise; profuse sweating, pain in legs and arms, cramps, stomach pains, maybe nausea and possible vomitting, shortness of breath/trouble breathing. Oh wait, that is probably how you feel because you never exercise. If you would just keep exercising the symptoms would probably go away.

      September 5, 2012 at 11:07 | Report abuse |
    • Godfrey

      Who gets "sick" from exercising? That's completely false. People may get injured, and their excess weight may necessitate more care as a result, but I've never heard of people getting sick from the mere act of exercising.

      RE: injuries: if you're over 35 and heavy, and you're starting a new exercise program, I suggest you start with "gentle yoga" as part of your regimen. You'll avoid injury and derailment if your body is prepared for what's coming.

      September 5, 2012 at 11:12 | Report abuse |
    • Orly?

      You'll have to elaborate on how exercise makes you "sick".

      September 5, 2012 at 14:57 | Report abuse |
  9. Panama

    Great! Another excuse for fat people to stay fat.... now they can claim fat is healthy. UHG this so called study makes me sick

    September 5, 2012 at 09:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TRACK

      Make sure only thin people help u out...

      September 5, 2012 at 09:24 | Report abuse |
    • Godfrey

      You're being silly. This is a long-term medical study. What value does your opinion have in the face of that?

      September 5, 2012 at 11:14 | Report abuse |
  10. Crossfit and middle age.......

    I'm 53yo and the oldest member of our local Crossfit affiliate. I'm certainly not the fastest or strongest Crossfitter, but I'm in pretty good shape.....far better then most women my age, and I'm not overweight. New members are often significantly overweight and delusional that they are "fit". I routinely out-perform the fat girls, and most of the fat guys.....and they are all younger than me....many half my age. From my perspective, if you can't out-perform me.......you are not fit and you need to up your game. Fat and fit is baloney.

    September 5, 2012 at 09:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sarryonasdad

      get off your high horse grandpa. They're not saying "fat and athletic"...they're saying that just because you are fat doesn't mean you aren't healthy. Maybe you should put on your reading glasses and check the article again. I AM obese, but I have ZERO primary health risks due to my wife's healthy cooking. I can and will very happily out-perform your geriatric nuts any day of the week, but just wanted to make my point that old people can't read.

      September 5, 2012 at 11:09 | Report abuse |
  11. Liar Liar

    @Panama my thoughts exactly. This is just going to be another lame reason for people to not take care of themselves. I once had a dude tell me that people who live sedentary lifestyles tend to live longer. Yeah, sure. The circles that I run in consist largely of people who actively take care of themselves, and VERY few of them are carrying any extra weight.

    September 5, 2012 at 09:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Godfrey

      Anyone who reads this study and sees it as an excuse to binge is obviously not thinking things through. What you fail to understand is that some heavy people exercise every bit as much as people who are "in shape" but do NOT drop weight. I see this all the time.

      Anecdotal evidence: I used to show up at my gym at 6 a.m. every morning (when my schedule dictated it). Every single morning I saw the same moderately obese woman. She was there when I showed up, on the treadmill or bike, working at an intense level. And when I left after my normal workout, (at least 45 minutes) she was still there, still working hard. Every time I went there, every single time, for the year I belonged to that particular gym. She was the same size in the beginning as when I switched gyms. That woman was IN SHAPE.

      There's a misconception among the more athletic that rapid weight loss easy (or even doable) if only people would get off their couches. It is simply not true, and to claim otherwise is to display your own ignorance. I, for one, think I am very lucky to have a body type that allows me to "look" as in shape as I am. Not everyone has that, and I take my hat off to the person who works out hard without that reinforcement.

      September 5, 2012 at 11:21 | Report abuse |
  12. cWhatsNew

    All in that Italian family with 8 siblings' collective age of 850 some years are relatively chubby, or at least not slim at all. It's not an excuse to over indulge myself, but at least it reminds me not to be exercise phobia.

    September 5, 2012 at 09:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. NoVA

    I'm currently a bit overweight, doc says I should lose 15 but I'd like to lose 30. Overall, my health is outstanding – low blood pressure, low resting heart rate, good HDL/LDL numbers and blood sugars. The main thing I notice is my joints take a beating with the extra weight – I'm running less and doing more yoga/Pilates classes. I can still run circles around many who are 1/2 my age. There's a big difference between a larger active person and one who sits around all day.

    September 5, 2012 at 09:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Fat and Fit

    I definitely agree with this. I have been obese for several years, but I also exercise at a moderate to heavy level six days a week. All my vitals are NORMAL. I am healthier than some of my family who are skinny. I do not like being overweight, but at least I am not sloven. Don't put all obese people in one category – I see a lot of derogatory comments, like "take the fork out of your mouth" and others. There are OTHER reasons besides FOOD that someone may be overweight and obese.

    September 5, 2012 at 09:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jack Johnson

      For the vast majority of people, it is basic physics. Calories are important. Try eating only when you are hungry; stop eating when you are no longer hungry. Eat slowly. Stay active. This expands the "take the fork out of your mouth" comment. This approach works better than any fad diet.

      September 5, 2012 at 09:47 | Report abuse |
    • Fat and Fit

      That is true...but what I'm saying is NOT to lump all overweight people in the same boat. There could be other reasons for being overweight – it's not all about over-eating.

      September 5, 2012 at 09:53 | Report abuse |
    • Jack Johnson

      My best wishes to you. Don't forget the mental aspects. Therapy may be the best approach to an addiction issue.

      September 5, 2012 at 10:09 | Report abuse |
    • Fat and Fit

      OK, so you're either a real jerk, Jack Johnson, or a troll. I'm guessing both.

      September 5, 2012 at 10:13 | Report abuse |
    • Godfrey

      Whoa... I think Jack has a point. Why bite his head off?

      People should have help overcoming the root causes of an unhealthy lifestyle, especially if those causes are rooted in something other than habit. There is a lot of emotional baggage that accompanies the stigma of being heavy (your own defensiveness is an example of this), and that should be dealt with too. I think that's all Jack was saying.

      If you think I'm being callous, please read my other comments on this issue.

      September 5, 2012 at 11:26 | Report abuse |
    • JudgeDB

      99.9999% of people that are overweight or obese are that way because they eat more calories than they burn. It is simple thermodynamics. Yeah, maybe 1 in 1 million obese people have some rare glandular issue, but they are the incredibly rare exception. You are upset about these two types of obesity being grouped together, but when causes for obesity other than caloric surplus are so extremely rare it is kind of a silly thing to complain about.

      September 5, 2012 at 12:00 | Report abuse |
    • Fat and Fit

      Because, Godfrey, it's just as bad to say someone has mental problems because of being overweight, just as assuming one is overweight because of overeating. I agree that a vast majority of people are overweight because of being lax and not caring – but that is NOT the case 100% of the time – nor does it have to do with anything "mental." I have been overweight for over 10 years. Before I had a medical issue creep up, I was not overweight – very fit and healthy and a size 6. I was on the Pill for a hormonal issue, but then developed blood clots because of a genetic disorder. I cannot take the Pill anymore because of the clots, and cannot get my hormonal issue resolved because I can't take the Pill. So you know what? I'm stuck. That is why I am very active in exercising and eating right (I even try and eat as much organics as I can because I don't want to deal with processed ingredients that can **also** be a cause of weight gain for some people). Those who assume all overweight/obese people are the way they are because of overeating or "mental" problems are being very disingenuous. I am not making excuses for every obese person; I'm just saying don't **always** assume overeating and lack of exercise (or "mental" problems) are the cause.

      September 5, 2012 at 13:17 | Report abuse |
  15. advocatusdiaboli

    Sure, your declining fitness and health can coexist with growing obesity for a while especially if you are young, but a vast majority of medical research over generations has shown that obesity and long-term health are incompatible. And that fitness coupled with a healthy diet and exercise promote longer term health. Cigarette smoking and good health can coexist for a while until the deleterious effects manifest themselves, but that doesn't make smoking healthy.

    September 5, 2012 at 09:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Jackie22

    It never fails to surprise me that science seems to have forgotten something humans have known for millenia: people who carry SOME extra weight are healthier and better equipped to fight disease and famine. Why else would fatty, calorie-rich foods appeal to humans? Why do infants, who are pretty scrawny at birth, get so fat? And in traditional, undevelped societies, who has the most sex appeal? That's right–the heavier people. That being said, I agree with the article and believe there are much heavier, obese people who are simply immune to metabolic issues. Does that mean that it's OK for everyone to be obese? Of course not. At no time in human history have so many people become so heavy and MOST obese people will suffer from health problems, if not metabolically but with respect to the health of their joints.

    September 5, 2012 at 09:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kat

      Science didn't "forget" this – maybe the article writer didn't have a sentence on it. It's irrelevant in this country because food scarcity is not an issue. Carrying extra weight should not be an advantage in the US (except for rapidly growing children and pregnant women).

      I also wouldn't say they were "immune" to metabolic issues. The article specifically says they did not control for the length of time the participants were obese, they only tested a subset of metabolic issues, and given that fat is an extremely active tissue in terms of hormone production, I wouldn't be surprised if these people were at greater long term risk of cancer.

      September 5, 2012 at 09:54 | Report abuse |
  17. NotConvinced

    I wouldnt think the study was near long enough. Yes exercise is good for everyone and some exercise is better than none at all but an obese person running a treadmill and not correcting their diet is going to have adverse health problems lol. The weight alone on the lower half of the body will take its toll and affect the cardiovascular in time. Its not rocket science and this article is misleading.

    September 5, 2012 at 09:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Archeopteryx

    The biggest danger in this is that people are not honest with themselves. They will use this to justify their obesity claiming they are still fit "inside".

    September 5, 2012 at 10:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Refridgerator Raider

    Prime example would be Pro football linemen. They are huge with big bellys but workout everday and have great cardiovascular health.

    September 5, 2012 at 10:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tim

      Probably a bad example. I recall hearing a few years back that the average age of death for pro linemen was 52 years.

      September 5, 2012 at 11:47 | Report abuse |
  20. Fat and Fit

    OK...so either you're a real jerk, Jack Johnson, or just a troll. I'm guessing both.

    September 5, 2012 at 10:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Ellen

    I wouldn't put too stock in the "fat and fit" credo. It doesn't sound like the study looked at musculoskeletal effects of being overweight. Those effects can take years to show up, usually when we get to be over 50. I would expect a high percentage of knee, hip, etc replacements are done on chronically overweight people. Also, depending on the exercise regimen being utilized, more or less damage can occur to feet, ankles, knees, hips and sacrum for the overweight. Attaining normal weight for those who are overweight is not easy. Better to remain at normal weight to start with. This study should not encourage anyone to hold on to an overweight lifestyle.

    September 5, 2012 at 10:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Crowded

    Was literally born chubby and have remained overweight my whole life. Did not require me to eat junk all day long. Even on low cal I could maybe lose a little, but mainly maintenance. My bloodwork, BP, ultrasound of my arteries all show a "metabolically healthy" person. But the toll on my joints, my psyche, and the restrictions on my life and activities due to size have all been as bad as any health crisis. I went to a plant-based diet, and finally, I can eat when I want, what I want and I'm steadily losing weight. For the first time I am about to enter the 'overweight' part of the BMI chart instead of obese. Feels good. Having lived a life as an obese person, I can say there is no such thing as fit and fat. If your joints ache, you are not fit. If your heart aches with depression over all you can't do, you aren't fit. They shouldn't feed people this baloney.

    September 5, 2012 at 10:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. eroteme

    'Researchers' are at it again! Wonder how many we have been blessed with so far this week.

    September 5, 2012 at 10:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Maria

    I've always been on the low end (30-31 BMI) of obese–with no incidents of diabetes, high blood pressure or other "fat-people" medical issues. I was borderline anorexic once when I lost about 25 pounds during a summer, which is something that I did to make my college roommates (all three of whom had eating disorders, I might add!) feel better about my presence and not go "ick" whenever I changed clothes. So I ran every day, got trimmer, dropped the 25 pounds, went back to college and had my roommate look at me, click her tongue in disgust and go, "Did you gain WEIGHT?!?" I lost TWENTY FIVE POUNDS and was accused of actually gaining weight! So excuse me if my body type doesn't confirm to society's delusions of what "normal" is.

    September 5, 2012 at 10:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. FootballFem

    Ha. What a bunch of haters. If you are under age 45, shut up. You have no idea. Squeeze out a couple of kids and work a real job for a few years, then we'll talk. Staying thin is extremely difficult as you age. I eat WAY less than I did 35 years ago, but I'm still over weight. So much of it is genetic. I work out, I play sports, I watch what I eat, all to no avail. I'm happy if I don't gain weight. On another note, many of my thinner friends have back and knee issues from exercising – most of them are runners. I don't have any joint issues yet, but I'm more of a walker than a runner and I enjoy sports that aren't too punishing on my skeleton (like wallyball). And many people who are praised for looking "great" for their age have medical and surgical help. Most of us can't afford to do that. Remember: Eat well, stay fit, die anyway. Enjoy your life while you can!

    September 5, 2012 at 10:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. snowdogg

    "Exercise benefits everyone, regardless of fitness and fatness level. So exercise should be encouraged by doctors to all the patients."

    That is the real take-away from this study.

    September 5, 2012 at 10:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Ben

    Reality: Life is a crap shoot. Whether you're healthy and fit or overweight, nobody escapes death. I've known folks who would be considered healthy and fit, keel over from a heart attack and other people who ate the wrong foods, smoked, drank, etc, and lived a long life. I'm not condoning or praising either lifestyle. I just want people to get off the hateful and hurtful comments. Everybody is different, accept that and be at peace with yourself and everyone else. I'm one of the people this article talks about. By BMI standards, I am obese, yet I don't have high BP, high cholesterol. or high blood sugar levels. I exercise, lift weights, and am healthy. Even when I was thin, I was considered obese by the BMI standards. Stop being judgemental, people.

    September 5, 2012 at 10:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Victor

      Ben...I would respectfully say...that you have nothing to worry about...it's other people who read an article like this and say "you see...it's OK to be fat"...for most people it is not OK to be fat because it is unhealhty and, statistically speaking, you will die earlier and have a degraded quality of life. Anyting which we tell ourselves to make us feel better at the cost of our health is not a good thing.

      September 5, 2012 at 12:03 | Report abuse |
  28. Ms M

    Valerie, Why are you so angry? I think what rj was trying to say is that we don't really want to see an anorexic (a true anorexic person who looks like a skeleton in a doctor's office with skin on it) in the gym. Spandex is not supposed to be baggy. I totally agree that most people who are not fat are not anorexic. However, most of the comments you made had nothing to do with what rj said. I agree that people need to take care of themselves. I firmly believe that if you stood an Olympic swimmer or gymnast (male or female) next to a fashion model (male or female), a lot of people would consider the Olympian "fat". Regardless, even though I am not as angry as you appear, I agree that fat is not healthy.

    September 5, 2012 at 10:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. PumpNDump

    It's ludicrous. The fact is when you're fat, you are NOT in shape and NEVER can be. That is a fact.

    September 5, 2012 at 10:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Mrs P

    I know this to be a fact. I'm still considered obese even after a 150 lbs weight loss. I'm now a runner training for my first marathon. I ran a half marathon this weekend a week after my long run of 14 miles. I'm not the fastest but I'm also not the slowest one out there. My resting heartrate is in the 50's, my cholesterol is 125, and my bp is usually 110/70 and, oh yeah, I'm a 51 year old grandmother of 4 with rheumatoid arthritis. To look at me you wouldn't think I was obese but according to the bmi charts I'm just a touch over the overweight category. I know people 20 years younger than I am that don't have numbers that good. It's not only about the weight on the scale, it's also about your life style and eating habits.

    September 5, 2012 at 11:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Godfrey

      Congrats, Mrs P. I think you are a great example of what this study shows.

      You may not be a swimsuit model, but you are vital and active. As a result, you have a lower risk of many life-altering illnesses (like diabetes).

      That's what this study really means to "fat" people: don't worry about the scale. Work out, and work out hard, and you can still reap the benefits, even if the fat is still there.

      Also, you will lose weight: it will just take longer and require more upkeep (see the NY Times article "The Fat Trap" from earlier this year). It needs to be a lifestyle choice, not a temporary "diet" with a "goal weight".

      Exercise is a magic pill. Take it.

      September 5, 2012 at 11:35 | Report abuse |
  31. jeff

    This is interesting research, I've wondered about this for a long time. It's better to be a few pounds overweight and in shape than to be underweight and not in shape.

    September 5, 2012 at 11:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. podunda

    FIT and FAT – the best of both worlds !

    September 5, 2012 at 11:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Primal 4 Life

    Outright nonsense. Being obese cause so many other problems it is impossible to be truly fit, period.

    September 5, 2012 at 11:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RMohrUAB

    Ah, nice to see another subset of the population complaining about overweight people not being healthy.

    I wonder how many of the above complainers smoke.

    I wonder how many of them are supposed "tolerant" Christians, or "tolerant" liberals for that matter.

    Hypocrites everywhere ...

    September 5, 2012 at 11:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Crowded

      First of all, I am overweight, so no hate here. Also, I don't know how it is intolerant to speak what we all know to be true. There is a big difference in testing metabolically healthy and actually being fit. I am metabolically healthy, I am not fit. There are no fit and fat people. I've never seen even one. I've seen plenty that claim to be 'fit' simply because they test well in the blood tests. Metabolic health may mean you don't drop dead as quick as your neighbor of the same weight who has high cholesterol and diabetes, but it doesn't mean you have a healthy heart and can do what you fit neighbor can either. As a large person, it would be dangerous for me to think that I can get away with being big with no consequences at all. I'm in my late 40s.. there have already been consequences. It is dangerous to placate oneself believing that you are as healthy as anybody when you are obese. That isn't hate speak, that is the truth. Now the people that say all fat people are lazy and ugly and don't deserve to live, that is hate speak and it is unnecessary. But to point out it is unhealthy is just the way things are.

      September 5, 2012 at 11:44 | Report abuse |
  35. joe jones

    "metabolically healthy."--how misleading. Big difference between metabolically healthy and in shape. Let me know next time you see a fat person running in the olympics or college or even high school, playing hockey or basketball or soccer or any similar activity that requires being in shape.

    September 5, 2012 at 11:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MysteriaKiito

      I'm overweight still and I exercise three hours 6 days a week. I bet I'm more healthy than you are.

      September 5, 2012 at 11:37 | Report abuse |
    • arose4yu

      Hey...do you watch the NFL? Why don't you look at some of those linebackers and tell me that some of them are skinny...Ever hear of Sumo? Man the ignorance on this board is astounding.

      September 5, 2012 at 12:08 | Report abuse |
  36. MysteriaKiito

    I've been exercising for over a year and have lost 130 lbs to date. I'm still considered overweight. Not obese, but still overweight. I'm able to keep up with some athletic people and am healthier than some skinny people I know. But people look at me and still see that I'm not stick thin and automatically assume that I must be eating at McDonalds every other day or stuffing my face whenever I get the chance. Completely untrue. While the majority of people probably do see complications from their heavy weight, it doesn't necessarily mean they're unhealthy. The same can be said about thin people. Just because someone is thin doesn't mean they're actually healthy! Assumptions make a$$es of us all.

    September 5, 2012 at 11:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Victor

    Clearly, just being "fat" does not make you unhealthy...what makes you unhealthy is what you probably did to yourself to get fat including (a) eating an unhealthy diet of processed food, sugar and empty calories and (b) not exercising. If you got fat on veggies and whole grains and you excercise which can happen to some people – then you are probably a healthy fat person and rock on...but, based upon ample experience with American eating habits, I would predict that most fat people are not taking care of themselves and the healthy fat person is the exception and not the rule.

    September 5, 2012 at 11:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. fb

    No secret to being thin: EAT LESS. The average person does not need more than 1200-1500 calories a day, yet many mericans will eat that in a single meal.

    September 5, 2012 at 11:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Stacy

    I hate articles like these as it provides additional justification for obese people to delude themselves. "I'm metabolically healthy" is the new "I have a slow metabolism". Even if obesity isn't immediately affecting one's cardiovascular system or increasing chances for cancer, it affects the body in many other ways. Obesity *will* cause damage and create health issues, period. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. If you are overweight or obese, you should be taking steps to reduce your weight. We need to stop deluding ourselves and get brutally honest with ourselves and our health.

    September 5, 2012 at 11:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Portland tony

    Obese people don't usually have the mobility or flexibility to perform the types of exercise that increase over all body and mental health. Whereas large folks can.......... Recommended weight loss program for obese individuals: One year in a third world prison or six months on an Alabama chain gang!

    September 5, 2012 at 12:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. jack

    yeah right, and I got a bridge in ny I can sell you.

    September 5, 2012 at 12:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. arose4yu

    Hey stupid people who think it's as simple as taking a fork out of your mouth...ever hear of hypothyroidism? Or how about fat people who are genetically big. I know people who run everyday, do marathons and such, eat healthy like birds and still have large frames. There are also people who are supposedly fit and just have been blessed with fast metabolism and in horrible health and have had strokes. Get over your shallow selves.

    September 5, 2012 at 12:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • arose4yu

      eroteme
      Fat is becoming the norm these days. It may not be long before we adapt the slogan, "Fat is Beautiful!"

      Um...open up a history book....this was already the slogan in the Renaissance Period.....

      September 5, 2012 at 12:06 | Report abuse |
  43. Grumpster

    Oh...just another reason to go grab a burger, fries and shake and pack on the pounds for the already huge average American...great study.

    September 5, 2012 at 12:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Anna201

    I'm extremely pleased to see CNN reporting on this study. There is a difference between metabolic health and popular conceptions of "health" which really translate into our perception of beauty. We only start to question people's health when they appear heavier than what we deem "ideal."
    The piece that's missing that's really important, and very clear from the angry comments, is the amount of stigmatization that people experience based on body size, and how that negatively impacts health.

    September 5, 2012 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. mrrawberries

    Great. Now every fat person that reads this will use it as an excuse to stay the same weight. It used to be "I'm big boned", now it's "I don't need to lose weight because I'm not unhealthy". And when they go to the doctor and the doctor tells them that they have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, basically a heart attack waiting to happen, they'll be completely blindsided and say, "I saw something on the news that said most obese people are actually healthy" or something like that.

    September 5, 2012 at 12:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Derek

    I agree. I am obese and up until an injury was running 5 miles a day. I eat healthy foods, do not smoke, do not drink, never taken drugs. I do not drink soda or have fast foods.. My blood pressure is perfect and all my blood numbers are perfect... yet, I am labelled obese because I am over weight.

    September 5, 2012 at 12:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Jack Johnson

    Obviously, these public forums are not attracting the more cerebral among us. Guess I'm at home here!

    September 5, 2012 at 12:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. truthsquad

    Obesity has passed smoking as the #1 cause of preventable death in the United States. About 30% of disease in America is caused in part due to obesity.

    September 5, 2012 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Victor

      Thank you for bringing us back to reality...it is generally not healthy to be fat...it just isn't...regardless of what you want to tell yourself.

      September 5, 2012 at 13:04 | Report abuse |
  49. musicmom

    Two thirds of the US population over the age of 20 is overweight or obese. GET OVER IT!!!!

    September 5, 2012 at 12:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Seyedibar

      Just don't get under it!

      September 5, 2012 at 12:34 | Report abuse |
  50. dlitejones

    Metabolic complications is not the only thing that makes one unhealthy. To be obese I would have to be carrying around 45 extra pounds. I guarantee you that if I was carrying around an extra 45 pounds of fat then I would not have the energy to do what I do on a daily basis, even if I was "fit". Also, that extra weight would create unnecessary stress on my joints, putting me at a higher risk of developing arthritis. Also, I would move more slowly, be weaker (pound for pound), be less agile, be less flexible (because the fat would be in the way), and would be at a higher risk of falls and other types of injuries. Healthy is not just the absence of disease, but the presence of energy, vitality, and the physical ability to handle life's daily tasks with ease and comfort. Even with good metabolic numbers, excess fat reduces one's health.

    September 5, 2012 at 12:23 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.