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    Think You Can Be Both Fat and Fit? It's 'Age-Old Myth' Say Researchers

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    A new study of millions of Brits over a decade has led researchers to say that the idea that a person can be overweight, but still maintain a good physical fitness level is "an age-old myth." The news could affect millions, as 67% of British adults are classed as overweight.

    The use of a person's BMI, or Body Max Index, to help determine their health has faced criticism in recent years. Some doctors have pointed out that BMI is purely a measure of weight and doesn't distinguish between muscle and fat.

    It means that some international athletes — particularly professional rugby players — are technically classed as "obese" by the UK National Health Service (NHS).

    Such comments fed into the narrative that it is possible for individuals to be overweight and still healthy.

    However, a recent study that examined 3.5 million people over a decade suggests that it may wishful thinking.

    Researchers at the University of Birmingham analyzed the data from British patients between 1995 and 2015.

    They found those who are were overweight or obese, but still metabolically healthy — without conditions as high blood pressure or diabetes — are still at a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks, than those with healthy BMIs.

    "This is the largest prospective study of the association between metabolically healthy obesity and cardiovascular disease events," said study author Dr. Rishi Caleyachetty from the Institute of Applied Health Research at Birmingham University.

    The research was presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Portugal mid-May, and was backed up by the British Heart Foundation.

    "It's not often that research on this scale and magnitude is able to clarify an age-old myth. These findings should be taken extremely seriously and I'd urge healthcare professionals to take heed," said Dr. Michael Knapton from the British Heart Foundation.

    "Previously we used to think that being overweight led to an increase in heart attacks and stroke because it raised your blood pressure or cholesterol.

    "What was new from this study for me is that it showed that people who were overweight or obese were at increased risk of heart disease even though they may have been healthy in every other respect. Just being overweight puts you at increased risk of heart attack and stroke."

    So what are the implications for a nation of increasingly bulging waistlines?

    Researchers stress that "blaming individuals" is not productive, but that an honest reappraisal of the nation's declining health is vital to saving lives.

    A shocking 67% of British adults and a growing number of children are obese or overweight, not far behind the US figure of 71%

    And the list of diseases that overweight men and women are at a higher risk of is long indeed, including type 2 diabetes, liver disease, heart attack, gallbladder disease and certain cancers.

    The British Heart Foundation highlights that a growing number of Brits are also at risk of high blood pressure, which can lead to further health complications in later life.

    The study has not yet appeared in a scientific journal and is yet to undergo checks by other academics.

    However, for more than 2/3 of British adults, this week's news coming out of Portugal may set off alarm bells over their diet and lifestyle.

    Dr. Mike Knapton said that it's important that overweight people should have support to help them improve their general health.

    "We all have a role to play. The government, retailers, food manufacturers and consumers must work together to help tackle this obesity epidemic."

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    Tags:
    fat tax, fitness, sugar, lifestyle, public health, obesity, exercise, University of Birmingham, Europe, Britain, United Kingdom
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