Researcher Suggests It’s Okay to Be Fat If You’re Fit

According to a research fellow at the University of South Carolina both fitness and fatness matter, separately and together, for heart health.

A recent New York Times article asked, “Is it okay to be fat if you’re fit?” According to Duck-Chul Lee, a research fellow at the University of South Carolina who led the study cited in the article, “Both fitness and fatness matter, separately and together, for heart health.... So much attention gets focused on weight reduction, but reducing body fat is very difficult for most people. Our study suggests that, in terms of heart health, maintaining your fitness over your lifetime is just as important, and for most people is probably more achievable.”

According to the article, the researchers recruited 3,148 adult men and women, most in their 40s at the start of the study and all normally active but not athletes. None at first had any indications of heart disease or other risk factors, like high blood pressure or cholesterol.

The researchers then compared the patients’ body fat and aerobic fitness during their second checkup, usually two or three years after the first. A majority of the people had, by that time, gained body fat. None of the participants during that second visit showed discernible risk factors for heart disease.

But by the time they showed up for their third checkup several years later, almost a quarter had developed high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels or a combination of risk factors called metabolic syndrome the article points out.

“It is better to be fit and fat than unfit and fat but ultimately, that is not really good news,” say boomer generation health experts Dian Griesel, Ph.D., and Tom Griesel, authors of the new books TurboCharged: Accelerate Your Fat Burning Metabolism, Get Lean Fast and Leave Diet and Exercise Rules in the Dust (April 2011, BSH) and The TurboCharged Mind (January 2012, BSH).

Fit-fat people are still not as healthy as lean-fit people, and they often overlook key health indicators because they mistakenly believe their fitness offers some sort of cosmic or universal immunity,” adds Dian.  “They will usually use their fitness as a justification to eat a poor or at least suboptimal diet and are somehow able to dismiss what should be obvious when looking in the morning mirror. Somehow it seems like he is saying it’s OK to be fat as long you are fit and as a result it leaves a big, fat excuse for people to grab hold of. We agree with Lee that ‘reducing body fat is very difficult for most people.’ However, excess body fat is not healthy, and everyone would be better off without it.”


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Janet Vasquez


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Business School of Happiness

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