Is it possible to be fat and “fit?” Some people believe so, but here is the real scoop!
We all know a person that may be overweight but strong as an ox, and can seem to run, or otherwise exercise without even breaking a sweat. Certain pro athletes — from NFL players to Sumo wrestlers — seem to prove the idea of being fat and fit at the same time. Even the medical establishment has used the term “healthy obesity.”
But the latest research indicates that term should be retired, and there really is no way to be both “fat” and “fit.”
Dr. William Johnson of the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, at Loughborough University, says, “It is undeniable that obesity is bad for health, but there are clearly differences between individuals in the extent to which it is bad.”
Johnson explains that the term “healthy obesity” is flawed since people who are obese, even those who are “metabolically” healthy, are still at increased risk for a host of health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and overall increased risk of mortality.
“While the concept of healthy obesity is crude and problematic and may best be laid to rest, there is a great opportunity for human biological investigation of the levels, causes, and consequences of heterogeneity in health among people with the same BMI,” Johnson said, pointing out people with the same BMI – even those with a BMI that makes them “obese” can have different health risks.
Sharon Zarabi, RD, the bariatric program director at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, says, “I think we need to move away from using BMI as categorizing one as obese/overweight or unhealthy,” Zarabi told Healthline. “The real debate here is how do we define health? Is the vegetarian who has a BMI of 30, avoiding all saturated fats from meats and consuming a diet heavy in simple carbohydrates [and thus] reducing his risk of cardiac disease but the increasing likelihood of elevated triglycerides and insulin, considered healthy?”
She added, “I think we need to redefine health and look at the overall person as a whole, taking into account fitness level, sleep patterns, joint pain, vitamin levels, breathing, strength, happiness, and social connections.”
Zarabi went on to say, that while you might find that occasional exception, she agrees with Dr. Johnson, and thinks that the term “healthy obesity” should no longer be used because it sends the wrong message. “There are very few if any cases of obese people out there being told they’re healthy while overweight,” she says.
She also added that besides all of the health risks that come with being overweight, obese people tend to not see their doctors as often, to avoid the “you have to lose weight” lecture, and this puts them at an even greater health risk.
So the skinny on being fit and fat is, it is very unlikely that you can be obese and healthy at the same time.