When you find an obese person, do you automatically assume they could not possibly be fit? While taking too many pounds can be a sign of present or future health issues, it is not always that way for everyone who’s overweight. Health professionals define overweight as a body-mass index (BMI) between 25 and 29.9, and obesity as a BMI of 30 or higher.
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But BMI alone isn’t enough to predict the health and threat of death. BMI measurements rely solely on weight and height. It does not take into consideration how much muscle or fat a person has. You’ve seen 300 plus pound football players who would be classed as obese with only BMI, but that have very low body fat. You’ve also probably known someone who’s thin but not so muscular.
So can you be fit and fat? This is a complex question without a black and white answer. As a group, obese, but not obese, people tend to live the longest. This was the conclusion of a four years study of 100,000 people, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association at 2016. The analysis found the safest BMI was 27, though this is deemed overweight.
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Being overweight is thought to give some protection to individuals with medical problems such as pneumonia, stroke, burns, hypertension, cancer, and cardiovascular disease, partly because of the fat reserves they must fall back on when a significant illness takes over their body. Overweight hospital patients typically have shorter recovery times, a stronger immune system, and less risk of dementia or arthritis.
Where your fat is situated is crucial, however. Abdominal fat, or an apple shaped body, is thought of as worse than a pear shaped body where fat is deposited around the hip, thighs, or buttocks area. Abdominal fat tends to go deep into your abdominal cavity and may surround and even undermine your internal organs. Some folks call this the obesity paradox. Others call it metabolically healthy obesity. What’s known is that weight isn’t a reliable indicator of general health.