WASHINGTON: It may be possible to be both fat and healthy, researchers reported, for at least half of overweight adults, and close to a third of obese men and women, have normal blood pressure, cholesterol and other measures of heart health.
And being lean does not necessarily protect people, either. Close to a quarter of normal-weight American adults in one study had risk factors for heart disease or diabetes.
"We really don't know as much about obesity as we think we do," Judith Wylie-Rosett of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, who oversaw the study, said on Monday.
"A considerable proportion of overweight and obese US adults are metabolically healthy, whereas a considerable proportion of normal-weight adults express a clustering of cardiometabolic abnormalities," Wylie-Rosett and Rachel Wildman and colleagues wrote in their report, published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.
Wylie-Rosett's team looked at data on 5,440 men and women who were examined and filled out questionnaires for the National Health and Nutritional Examination Surveys between 1999 and 2004. Most did not exercise very much.
They found just over 51% of those who were overweight, and 31.7% of those who were obese, had healthy levels of cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure and other measures linked to heart disease.
These measures have been shown in many other studies to predict heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and other heart disease, although this particular study did not look at whether people suffered any of these problems.
More than 23% of those who were at a healthy weight had two or more unhealthy readings, the researchers found.