Obesity is a widespread condition in the U.S. About 35 percent of women and 31 percent of men are obese, meaning that their body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher.
In recent years, some people have said that it’s possible to be healthy and obese at the same time. The reasoning for this is that certain obese people don’t show the metabolism changes that usually come with obesity.
According to a new study from the University of Birmingham, however, the idea that a person can be both obese and healthy is a dangerous myth.
“Healthy” obesity is a myth
In the past, doctors relied on measurements like blood pressure and cholesterol levels to say whether someone was healthy or not. Some obese people don’t have the elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels that you might expect for someone of their weight.
But the University of Birmingham study, which followed the health records of 3.5 million people for 20 years, shows that these seemingly healthy numbers don’t mean that these people are actually healthy.
Obesity increases risk of heart disease and stroke
Contrary to claims of “healthy obesity,” this University of Birmingham study showed that obese people are greater risk for certain diseases.
Compared to people with a normal weight and a healthy metabolism, obese people are at a 49 percent increased risk of heart disease and a whopping 96 percent increased risk of heart failure.
As we’ve discussed on this blog before, the health effects of obesity go beyond heart disease. Obesity has also been linked to cancer, liver failure, spine pain and even mental disorders, such as depression.
According to Dr. Dirk, this study is very important because it ends the myth that a person can be obese and still be healthy. “Obesity is a real medical condition in which which your body is not working effectively for you,” says Dr. Dirk.
The best solution is to tackle the core problem of weight. Making changes to your lifestyle, particularly changes in diet and physical activity, can do the trick. However, for some people, obesity surgery is the best and most realistic option.
“Surgery helps make good nutrition and exercise work better for you. It’s all about making you a healthy person,” Dr. Dirk says.
If you’re ready to take the next step towards living a healthy life, schedule an appointment with Dr. Dirk today.