Medical evidence is mounting against being overweight, even when the person is otherwise healthy.
Researchers in the U.K. who have been following a group of 2,500 British civil servants report that most “healthy obesity” will become unhealthy over time.
“These results were not overly surprising, as we already know that healthy obese adults have a greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease than healthy normal-weight adults,” lead author Joshua A. Bell of University College London writes.
Over a 20-year period, half of the study subjects identified as healthy obese developed health problems typical to heavier people, such as elevated blood pressure and metabolic issues including low HDL cholesterol, high fasting blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.
Overall, those who started as healthy obese were almost eight times more likely to have become unhealthy obese than those who started at a healthy weight.
“When carrying excess fat, the tissues of the body become resistant to the hormone insulin, which leads to poor control of sugars and fats in the blood,” says Bell.
Though he acknowledges that it matters where the fat is located, with fat around the stomach and organs being the most dangerous, the luck of those who avoid carrying weight in those areas doesn’t hold out forever: “Healthy obese adults may have a more favorable fat distribution, but the number of healthy obese adults who can maintain an optimal balance of fat stores in the long-term is not high.”