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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Eat To Live : Do Not Live To Eat

"Unfit normal-weight individuals had a 30 percent lower risk of death from any cause than did fit obese individuals."
"These results suggest low BMI [body mass index] early in life is more important than high physical fitness, with regard to reducing the risk of early death."
Professor Peter Nordstrom, Umea University, Sweden

"This is something that really shouldn't be a debate of one versus the other."
"It's clear that both fitness and fatness are important. It's definitely good to be as fit as possible no matter what your body weight. But it's also clear that it is optimum to be both lean and fit. It shouldn't be a question of one or the other."
Walter Willett, nutrition and health expert, Harvard School of Public Health

Contestants from "The Biggest Loser," episode 801 (NBC Photo: Dave Bjerke)

When it comes to science, there is rarely complete agreement. For every theory which has not been incontestably proven, there are always counter-theories. And the agreement among some scientists and fitness experts that overweight people can still be fit through exercise may give comfort to the obese and the overweight -- and they are legion in all societies now -- but the idea most certainly has its detractors, and Professor Nordstrom quite qualifies as one.

New research appears to have put 'finis' to the theory of "fat but fit". That new research has demonstrated that the obese who regularly exercise are even so more likely to die before people who are unfit, yet slim. Even with high levels of aerobic fitness, people who are categorized as obese are 30 percent likelier to die a premature death in comparison with people who are slender, yet performed little exercise. Data that resulted from a study of 1.3-million subjects point the way.

Before reaching that conclusion researchers had a 30-year tracking record that led them to the certainty that the right weight is the most vital determinant of longevity and long-term health. So scrub the belief that obesity could be compensated for by being 'fit'. If you are obese, you simply are not 'fit', exercising aside. Although there is nothing to say that those who are morbidly overweight and who can exercise will still be doing themselves a favour; not as much as losing weight, but helping themselves nonetheless.

This largest study of its kind whose results were published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, had been based on 18-year-old Swedish military conscripts, tested by having them cycle until utter exhaustion, establishing their level of aerobic fitness. This was followed up by health researchers keeping tabs on the men for an average of 29 years. The findings, according to Professor Nordstrom laid waste to the idea that the obese could compensate their mortality risk by exercising.

It follows on the 2012 study by a team of researchers from the United States and Europe, published in the European Heart Journal. That research team posited with confidence that overweight and obese people were at no greater risk of heart disease or cancer than people of normal weight -- as long as they were "metabolically fit."  According to that earlier study their obese, exercising subjects were not overwhelmingly seen to have insulin resistance, high triglycerides or high blood pressure; their cholesterol levels were seen to be acceptable.

Close to half of the 43,000 obese subjects on whom data were had were considered to rank as fit according to these criteria. And the researchers concluded that when compared against healthy normal-weight subjects the obese but fit participants harboured no higher risk of premature death.

The researchers tracked men for 30 years, before coming to the conclusion that being the right weight is the most important factor for long-term health.
GETTY IMAGES/THINKSTOCK The researchers tracked men for 30 years, before coming to the conclusion that being the right weight is the most important factor for long-term health. 
With the new study results, however, men in the highest fifth of aerobic fitness had a 48 percent lower risk of death from any cause in comparison with the lowest fifth, it was found. Those men had an 80 percent lower death occurrence associated with alcohol or drug abuse, with a 59 percent reduced chance of suicide, while showing a 45 percent drop in heart disease deaths. But with all these indices in place and adding obesity, they were much more likely to die at an earlier age than men who were slim.

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