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Researchers Debunk “Healthy Obesity”

Update Date: May 01, 2014 03:15 PM EDT

In a new study, researchers set out to answer the very controversial question of whether or not people can be both healthy and obese. They concluded that, despite some claims that being obese and fit is a possibility, obese people ultimately are not healthy.

For this study, the researchers analyzed 14,828 adults from Korea who were considered metabolically healthy. None of the adults had any diagnosed heart problems. Since the study was conducted in an Asian culture, the researchers defined obesity as having a body mass index (BMI) higher than 25. The United States considers people with a BMI of over 35 to be obese.

The researchers found that even though the participants did not have any heart problems, the adults that were obese had more signs of early plaque buildup in their arteries when compared to adults with normal weights.

"Obese individuals who are considered 'healthy' because they don't currently have heart disease risk factors, should not be assumed healthy by their doctors," said study author Dr. Yoosoo Chang, MD, a professor at Kangbuk Samsung Hospital Total Healthcare Center Center for Cohort Studies in Seoul, Korea reported in TIME.

Numerous studies have repeatedly found evidence supporting both sides of the debate. Some of these researchers concluded that there are overweight people with normal blood pressure, cholesterol and health conditions and therefore, should be considered healthy. However, there are other studies that suggest that being overweight or obese increases risk of developing these conditions even though they may not be present at the moment. This study's findings add more proof that there is no such thing as "metabolically healthy obesity."

"This concept of healthy obesity came in the last 10 years," Dr. Caroline Kramer, who was involved in another report about obesity, commented. "Some studies report that if you are obese but metabolically healthy, you are protected in a way. We don't think that that is true. And I don't think it will come as much of a surprise."

The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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