Can You Be Fat And Healthy Too?

Jan 2014

New Research says "NO!" A vital review of 8 studies published in the British Medical Journal covering 61,386 people and 3,988 deaths or cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes showed that those who were obese (Body Mass Index greater than 29) had a 24% higher risk of death from any cause or a cardiovascular event compared with those of normal weight. (BMJ 2013; 347:f7324) The obese people in the study had been specifically screened to ensure that they had no evidence of any other underlying abnormality and were matched again similarly normal people of normal weight. The study results show clearly that you cannot be overweight and expect to live as healthy or long a life as your contemporaries who are of normal weight. The findings argue that obesity, even in the "healthy", needs to be treated like any other chronic disease. Equally worrying are local figures published by the Health & Social Care Information Centre for Suffolk showing that 7.6% of pupils in Reception classes at age 4 were classified as obese, rising to 16.9% by the time they moved to Secondary School at age 11. The figures for N.E. Essex were just as bad, 7.7% and 16.7% respectively. One in four people in the UK are now classed as completely inactive with only one in three taking adequate exercise. The cost of this inactivity has been estimated at 8.2 billion a year in sickness and premature mortality. These reports confirm that as a country and at all ages we must change this dire situation. We need to be aware of the scale of the crisis, the damage it does and the early age at which problems arise. The first study busts the myth of self-delusion that you can be fat and healthy. The second shows that the problems are starting in childhood. Although the answers lie in ourselves through better awareness, better diets and more activity, all agencies that in any way engage with health, education and national policy must act together and now, if not for ourselves, but for the next generation.