Healthy obesity a myth, say researchers
Obesity brings increased risk regardless of cholesterol, blood glucose and blood pressure readings. It carries an additional risk of premature death compared to that of normal-weight individuals, regardless of the obese person’s cholesterol and sugar levels, a study from Mount Sinai Hospital’s Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute shows.
“Our research findings challenge the myth that there is such a thing as healthy obesity if people maintain normal-range readings of cholesterol, blood glucose, and blood pressure,” says co- author Dr. Ravi Retnakaran, an endocrinologist at the Leadership Sinai Diabetes Centre at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, and Associate Member of the hospital’s Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute. Co-authors are Dr. Caroline K. Kramer and Dr. Bernard Zinman, also of the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute.
Researchers reviewed the data of 61,386 individuals in eight separate studies from the past decade. Each study observed adults defined as normal weight, overweight, and obese (body mass index or BMI of 30 or greater). Each study evaluated the individuals’ metabolic status, i.e. cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure. The studies compared fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke, as well as other causes of death, across the three weight categories.
The comparative risks for premature death in the three weight groups became especially apparent after 10 years of follow-up. The key finding is that even in the absence high blood pressure or cholesterol (in other words, a metabolic problem), an obese person whose BMI is 30 or greater may be at 24% additional risk for cardiovascular event or premature death compared to a person of normal weight, says Dr. Retnakaran.