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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Study Gives Overweight Adults Hope For Health

For years, being overweight was among the worst health stigmas and with good reason. To be obese medically classified as being at least 20 percent above your ideal body weight  was associated with a lack of self-discipline, as well as an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some types of cancer. It was considered common knowledge that extra poundage  plain and simple would always lead to an early grave.
But does it?
While being overweight is certainly a health risk, a recent study suggests that the odds of dying of cardiovascular disease may be linked more closely to fitness than to fatness. In the March 1999 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers report that overweight men who were physically fit (as measured by performance on a treadmill) were less likely to die of all causes, including heart disease, than men who were lean but unfit.

Overall, it's better to be lean than to be fat, because fatness is still an independent risk factor for cardiac disease as well as many other diseases, says Kerry J. Stewart, Ed.D., an associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins and director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at its Bayview Medical Center. But among those who are fat, the handful who are fit seem to have a good degree of protection from death from various causes.

Specifically, the study followed nearly 22,000 men aged 30 to 83 years for an average of eight years. They were broadly categorized by cardiovascular fitness level (fit or unfit) and body weight (lean, normal or obese). Regardless of their body weight, those who were fit had lower death rates. In fact, unfit lean men had more than twice the risk of dying of all causes than obese men who were physically fit.

The results of this study are encouraging for those who exercise regularly and achieve fitness, but are still overweight. Although body weight is determined mainly by how much you eat and exercise, genetics can play a part. Some people will never be thin, even if they exercise daily. Nevertheless, these people will still be better off in terms of better health, a better quality of life and a lowered risk of death.

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