The 'Fit But Fat' Debate: Weight Loss Should Still Be the Goal, Experts SayWednesday, February 08, 2012
Overweight people who eat a healthful diet, exercise, and have healthy blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels still have a greater risk of developing health problems. A Mayo Clinic study of 855 patients with coronary artery disease found that fit but overweight patients had a significantly lower risk of dying compared to normal weight patients whose fitness level was low. Engaging in regular exercise, eating healthfully, having normal metabolic markers, and carrying weight around the hips rather than the abdomen may confer some cardiac protection to some overweight people. Nevertheless, carrying extra weight is highly associated with 18 health issues, including type 2 diabetes, cancer, asthma, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, and chronic back pain, according to a meta-analysis of 89 studies. More often, obese people have metabolic syndrome, which includes a large waist, and high blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation, all risk factors for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Metabolically normal but obese (MNBO) people have a lower risk of heart failure than normal weight people with metabolic syndrome, but are still at higher risk of dying, so weight loss is still recommended. Obese people may have a genetic predisposition to gain weight, or may have lost weight only to regain it again. In addition, many people fail to lose weight because they set unrealistic weight loss goals. Setting a goal of losing 5 percent of body weight increases the chance of success and that amount of weight loss helps decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Tips for maintaining a healthy weight include eating a primarily a plant-based diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein from plants such as beans, with smaller amounts of lean animal proteins and low-fat dairy products. Use a pedometer to help meet the 10,000 steps a day goal. Sleep at least seven to eight hours each night, and have blood pressure, blood sugar, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels checked regularly.