The “Obesity Paradox” Disproven at Last By the University College London Research Team


Is there such a condition as healthy obesity? There is no such thing, according to a new British study. The case will always the same. Most obese individuals suffer poor health and will succumb to chronic illnesses sooner or later.

According to lead researcher Joshua Bell, a doctoral student at University College London’s department of epidemiology and public health, the “obesity paradox” is a hypothetical situation that suggests that obesity may increase people’s ability to survive health conditions such as heart failure.

However, according to one research which has been monitoring the health conditions of more than 2,500 British men and women for 20 years, fifty percent of those considered “healthy obese” ended up in poor health years later.

“Healthy obesity is something that’s a phase rather than something that’s enduring over time,” Bell said. “It’s important to have a long-term view of healthy obesity, and to bear in mind the long-term tendencies. As long as obesity persists, health tends to decline. It does seem to be a high-risk state.”

“The obesity paradox springs from research involving people who are overweight but do not suffer from obesity-related problems such as high blood pressure, bad cholesterol and elevated blood sugar, said Dr. Andrew Freeman” , director of clinical cardiology for National Jewish Health in Denver.

“Some studies have found that people in this category seem to be less likely to die from heart disease and chronic kidney disease compared with folks with a lower body mass index, Freeman said “even though science also has proven that obesity increases overall risk for heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer.”

“No one can say how the obesity paradox works, but some have speculated that people with extra weight might have extra energy stores they can draw upon if they become acutely ill” , Freeman said.

Researchers from the University College London monitored the health of 2,521 men and women whose ages ranged from 39 and 62 in order to the check the validity of this theory. Every participant’s body mass index, cholesterol level, blood pressure, fasting blood sugar, and insulin resistance was recorded. They were then listed and classified in turn as healthy and unhealthy or obese or not obese.

Approximately one third of these obese participants were classified as healthy obese at the beginning of the research program since they didn’t manifest any symptoms of chronic diseases or any signs of risk factors.

However, in the course of the research, risk factors and chronic diseases started to manifest themselves. Ten years later, around 40% of the participants had become unhealthy; after two decades, the figure grew to fifty one percent.

Poor health also manifested in healthy non-obese individuals later, but it happened at a much slower rate. After twenty years, the unhealthy yet trim individuals in the group reached 22 percent. Another ten percent had developed to be either healthy or unhealthy obese.

After the program ended, a mere eleven percent of the participants who were classified as healthy obese became healthy non-obese.

Bell and Freeman concluded that the study demonstrated that risk factors will ultimately develop in obese individuals, including high sugar presence in blood and cholesterol that will lead to long term illnesses and, subsequently, death.

“The longer one is obese, the more likely they are to induce damage,” Freeman said. “I have very seldom seen people who are obese for the long-term not have a condition that requires treatment.”

Obese people should find a way to lose weight even if they don’t manifest the danger signs Bell said.

“All types of obesity warrant treatment, even those which appear to be healthy, because they carry a high risk of future decline,” he said.

The findings are published Jan. 5 in a letter in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.



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