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The “Healthy Obese”: I’m Not Buying It

Posted Dec 03 2012 10:02pm

I’ve seen a few media reports on the “healthy obese”.  The idea is that certain obese people do not have the metabolic syndrome, and that therefore the excess weight is not a concern:

“They “are at no greater risk of dying than normal weight individuals,” said Kuk, the Toronto professor. “It challenges the notion all obese individuals need to lose weight.”

I’m not buying it.  First of all, the “normal weight” person in the US isn’t in that great of metabolic shape in the first place.  There is plently of evidence of heart disease in normal weight persons.

But the bigger issue for me is inflammation.  If you look closely at these studies of the “healthy obese”, they seem to almost cherry-pick the metabolic markers to make things look better than they are.  If you look at other studies and look for markers of inflammation, the picture doesn’t look so rosy.

Look at this study of “healthy” obese women.  The average C-reactive protein value is 5.56, which is way over any healthy threshold.

Or look at this new (2012)  study(pdf) of the “healthy” obese.  The hs-CRP is an average of 8.83 – again, way above healthy.

All this could be summarized as this: there is no free lunch.  Obesity is not healthy.  Sorry.

This is not to say that some people aren’t naturally heavier than others, or that some people have trouble losing weight.  Or that traditional methods of losing weight often make things worse.

But the bottom line is that excess weight is unhealthy.

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