No such thing as 'healthy obesity' research finds

15 August 2017        

Category: Research

Researchers that we part-fund have found that being overweight or obese increases a person’s risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) by up to 28% compared to those with a healthy bodyweight, even if they have healthy blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

A set of bathroom scales

The findings, which have been published in the European Heart Journal, add to a growing body of evidence which suggests that people should always aim to maintain a body weight within a healthy range and shed the excess pounds.

Storing too much fat in the body is associated with a number of metabolic changes, including increased blood pressure, high blood sugar and lowering ‘good’ cholesterol levels, which can lead to disease and poor health. 

2.3 million people in the UK

Coronary heart disease affects over 2.3 million people in the UK and the disease is responsible for nearly 70,000 deaths in the UK each year – most caused by a heart attack.

'Metabolically healthy obesity'

However, previous studies have revealed a subset of overweight people who lack the ill health effects related to excess weight, leading to them being classified as ‘metabolically healthy obese'.

Now, a group led by researchers at Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge has shown that despite an apparent clean bill of health, this overweight group is still at increased risk compared to those with a healthy weight.

Largest study of its kind

In the largest study of its kind to date, scientists used data from more than half a million people in 10 European countries to show that excess weight is linked with an increased risk of heart disease, even when people  have a healthy metabolic profile.

After adjusting for lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet, exercise and socioeconomic status, the researchers found that compared to the healthy normal weight group, those classed as unhealthy had more than double the risk of CHD.

Find out more about the link between weight and heart disease