There is no such thing as ‘healthy obesity’

Written By komlim puldel on Selasa, 06 Januari 2015 | 20.01

The study measured BMI, cholesterol, blood pressure, fasting plasma glucose and insulin resistance. Source: AFP

PEOPLE who are obese may appear healthy for a while but their condition declines over time, according to a study that followed more than 2500 people for 20 years.

The research by scientists at University College London is the longest of its kind, and its findings support previous research that has shown people who are overweight face a higher risk of heart attack, stroke and some kinds of cancer than thin people as the years go on.

For the purposes of the research, "healthy obesity" was defined as not having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or other metabolic risk factors.

A total of 2521 men and women between the ages of 39 and 62 were followed for the study that measured their body mass index, cholesterol, blood pressure, fasting plasma glucose and insulin resistance.

A total of 181 participants were initially classified as obese, including 66 who were considered "healthy obese".

By the time the two decades had passed, just over half of the healthy obese people had become unhealthy obese. Only 11 per cent of those who were obese at the start of the study lost kilos and reached normal weight.

'Healthy obesity' is not sustainable. Source: Supplied

"A core assumption of healthy obesity has been that it is stable over time, but we can now see that healthy obese adults tend to become unhealthy obese in the long term, with about half making this transition over 20 years in our study," said lead study author Joshua Bell.

"Healthy obesity is a high-risk state with serious implications for disease risk."

Nearly 36 per cent of adults in the United States and nearly 25 per cent of adults in Britain are obese, according to estimates from government health authorities. 3 in 5 Australian adults are overweight or obese.

"Healthy obesity is only valid if it is stable over time, and our results indicate that it is often just a phase," added Bell.

The research was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Further research from the Slimming World study of 2, 573 people found that up to 40 per cent of overweight men and women have faced some form of judgment, criticism or humiliation at least once a week.

Asking for clothing in a bigger size induced laughter in stores. Source: Supplied

It included young people winding down car windows to shout abuse, passengers refusing to share a seat on public transport, men in nightclubs feigning romantic interest and teenagers taking pictures or videos on their phones.

Even being a paying customer did not stop comments on food choices from supermarket staff, laughter from shop assistants when asked for clothes in a bigger size, and feeling humiliated as bar staff served slimmer customers first.

Weight discrimination does not motivate people to lose weight, the study found. Instead, it left 47 per cent feeling ashamed, 41 per cent depressed and 30 per cent like they were useless.

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