You Can’t Be Fat and Healthy

A recent study has shown that you cannot be ‘obese and healthy’. Have you been kidding yourself into believing this fallacy? We asked Nick Mitchell for his thoughts on this subject. Nick is the straight-talking fitness author, celebrity PT and founder of the world’s only international personal training studio – UP Fitness. Here’s what he had to say:

Nick Mitchell

Being obese is not good. If you are obese you will almost certainly die because of it – there are reams of previous research out there that already prove that if you are overweight you put yourself at heightened risk of a grim litany of conditions from type-2 diabetes and coronary heart disease to stroke and cancer.

So we should not be surprised by this new study that shows you cannot be ‘fat and healthy’.

Even if we ignore the fact that BMI is only applicable to a large population sample, and not to individuals, and also ignoring the fact that the definition of ‘healthy’ vs ‘unhealthy’ is an arbitrary distinction (we use ‘optimal’ vs ‘sub-optimal’), Ultimate Performance has always been of the opinion that the only difference between ‘metabolically healthy obese’ and ‘metabolically unhealthy obese’ is time.

Looking at the above table of data from “Differences in body composition between metabolically healthy obese and metabolically abnormal obese adults” published in the International Journal of Obesity (2014, vol 38), it is very clear from the data that ‘Metabolically Healthy Obese’ are younger (by 4-5 years) and lighter (by 5-8kg) with smaller waists than ‘Abnormal Obese’.

The obvious distinction that we should make is that people who are less obese, and those who haven’t been obese for as long, are slightly less unhealthy than those who are more obese.

Or in other words, obesity isn’t ‘all or nothing’, it’s effectively an unlimited scale from slightly obese all the way to extremely obese. On average, those at the extreme end of the scale will be less healthy than those on the slightly obese end.

Combine this deterioration in diagnosed ‘healthiness’ over time with the inflammation, which comes from chronic overexposure to insulin and a chronic hypercaloric diet, and it is inevitable that someone who becomes obese and doesn’t make a lifestyle change, will continue to become more obese and continue to put themselves more and more at risk from obesity-related diseases and an early death.

We don’t praise smokers, and by and large accept that they are being foolish with their health. There are many analogies between that and obesity.

Take some personal responsibility, think of your loved ones, think of yourself and the one chance that you get at this life.

Start an exercise and healthy eating plan, you don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to ever want or need a six pack to reap enormous, rapid, and lasting benefits.

For more expert advice from a host of experienced specialists in their field, click here to read our latest Ask The Expert articles.

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