Fatsos take heart. You might still outlive skinny people who are weight watchers.
The medical profession has come around to accepting the notion that you can be fat and healthy. So, if by any chance you’ve over indulged this summer don’t feel alarm or despair for doctors say being fat will not necessarily send people to an early grave – because such a thing as ‘healthy obesity’ exists.
In actual fact, one in four of those considered obese are lucky enough to be fat and fit, a phrase which to me has rhythmic and lyrical connotations, although I don’t suffer from excess weight.
Studies show that sufferers of healthy obesity have normal blood pressure and process sugar easily, despite their generous proportions, and have a lower risk of various ills than others who are similarly overweight. One five-year-long Italian study found that the ‘healthy obese’ were no more likely to develop heart disease, cancer, or die at any given time, than those of normal weight. In other studies, being fat and fit, the two Fs, cut the risk of ill health even if it did not completely remove it. The figures come from German experts who trawled years of research from around the world into the topic.
Their acknowledgement will bring cheer to well-endowed people such as cook Nigella Lawson, and singer Adele, who have long maintained that it is possible to enjoy a healthy life being fat and fit.
Writing in a medical journal published by the respected Lancet group the medics said accurately identifying those who are F… and F… would cut the bill for obesity treatment.
Gastric bypasses and banding operations costs taxpayers up to £85 million a year, as more and more people become hugely overweight. Targeting treatment to those who would benefit the most could ensure taxpayers’ money is best spent, the researchers said. ‘Potentially scarce resources can be more effectively tailored. Some prevention and treatment strategies can be very expensive and time-consuming.’
Genes are thought to be the key, but working out why some of our bodies resist the toll of excess weight could also lead to treatment to improve the health of the obese that are not fortunate enough to fall into the category of F… and F…
Doctors normally gauge whether a patient’s size is a health concern by using their weight and height to calculate their body mass index, or BMI. But relying on BMI is controversial as it does not distinguish between muscle and fat, meaning some athletes are classified as obese. The German researchers said using BMI alone was insufficient and other factors such as waist size, blood pressure and where fat is stored in the body needed to be taken into account.
But much more research is needed before any formula is ready for use in doctors’ surgeries. And in the meantime, the researchers say that the obese should still think about losing weight. The team from the German Institution of Human Nutrition at the University of Tubingen said: ‘Prevention of obesity through a healthy diet and physical activity should be widely promoted.’
Writing in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal, they warned that not everyone who is ‘healthy obese’ will stay that way. Dr Ian Campbell, a GP and medical director of Charity Weight Concern, said it made:‘perfect sense that some people could be fat but healthy’, but, he warned, ‘the science is not yet precise. There is always a risk you will develop problems later’.
There you have it. For the glutinous, take heed and be on your guard. Don’t eat yourself to death but contain your greed to a reasonable level and you will probably outlive us all.
It is always the wickedly indulgent among us who have all the luck.