Being overweight is a strong risk factor for heart disease (and many other health conditions). A recent study in Greece suggests that it is not the extra fat we carry but the metabolic syndrome which frequently accompanies obesity that should be our biggest concern. Metabolic syndrome, which I have written about previously, is a combination of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and insulin resistance.
The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in September 2011, followed 550 people in their 50s and 60s for six years. It showed for the first time that otherwise healthy obese people have a lower risk of heart disease than normal weight people with metabolic syndrome. This held true after adjusting for known risk factors including age, sex, cigarette smoking, glucose tolerance, dyslipidemia, blood pressure and waist circumference.
Those with metabolic syndrome, regardless of weight, had 2.13 to 2.66 times the risk of a normal weight person without the syndrome (the highest risk was for the obese with the syndrome). Those without the syndrome had between 0.41 and 1.12 times the risk (the healthy obese people actually had the lowest risk). The study did NOT suggest that being obese is healthier (besides it is associated with other problems like cancer and arthritis which were not included in this study). It clearly does however support my belief that metabolic syndrome is a very significant health risk, whether you are overweight or normal. The study also warns that this pattern may change in older populations (healthy overweight seniors are rare).
As I have explained before, insulin resistance (IR) is the key to metabolic syndrome. When IR is controlled, blood pressure and cholesterol are normalized and inflammation is reduced (all without the need for drugs I might add). The best way I know to control insulin resistance, even if you only need to lose 10 or 20 lbs, is with the Ideal Protein diet. And if you are overweight but still healthy, now is the best time to deal with it before these other health problems arise.
This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.