Half of Overweight People Have Healthy Heart, Study Says

Aug 12, 2008
A new study revealed that almost half of overweight people have normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, while almost the same number of normal weight people has some of the heart problems associated with obesity.

The research shows that the association between weight and health risks should be reconsidered. In the nationwide study, 51 percent of overweight adults, or roughly 36 million people had normal levels of blood pressure, cholesterol, blood fats and blood sugar. Around one-third of adults or 20 million people suffering from obesity were found to be in this range, having none or only one of these levels abnormal.

The results also showed that a forth of normal weight people, or nearly 16 million have some of the heart problems, showing at least two abnormal levels.

Dr. Robert Eckel, a former American Heart Association president and professor of medicine at the University of Colorado explained that the study will help to bust the stereotypes that are associated with weight and health problems.

Researchers examined nationally representative government surveys from 1999 to 2004 that included laboratory tests, height and weight measurements. The participants were also questioned about their habits such as smoking and physical activity.

According to the results, such factors as smoking, physical inactivity and older age were more determining for the heart risks. Only 20 percent of obese adults, aged from 50 to 64 were considered healthy in comparison to half of younger obese people.

Scientists say that the waist size is a more trusted method to predict the risk of heart problems and the findings support this opinion. It was found that among people with normal weight, the increased levels of such measures as blood pressure, cholesterol and others were prevalent in people with larger waists.

Overweight and obese people who had no risks also showed smaller waists than people with at least two risk factors. This supports the earlier findings that the fat surrounding the abdominal organs elevates the health risks.

Dr. Lewis Landsberg, a Northwestern University obesity expert, said that it should be mentioned that not everyone with increased risk factors develops heart problems.

Judith Wylie-Rosett, a co-author of the research say that the results do not imply that people should not worry about the weight, because still the half of the people taking part in the study had heart problems. For those overweight people who did not have the increased heart risks, weight loss might be essential for cosmetic purposes.