WEDNESDAY, Sept. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Some obese people have no greater risk of cardiovascular disease or cancer than normal-weight people, a new study suggests.
Moreover, for patients with heart disease, being obese may actually reduce the risk of death, a phenomenon called the "obesity paradox," another study finds.
"It is possible to be fat and fit -- but relatively few people are," said Dr. David Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine. He took no part in either study.
"For the most part, the behaviors that promote fitness most effectively defend against fatness into the bargain. It is certainly possible to be thin and unhealthy, which is why health, not a particular weight, is what we should be aiming for as both individuals and a society," he said.
Both reports were published online Sept. 5 in the European Heart Journal.
For the first study, a team led by Francisco Ortega, of the department of biosciences and nutrition at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, collected data on more than 43,000 people who were part of the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study.
Study participants were mostly white (98 percent), and were well-educated and worked in executive or professional positions.
Each participant answered questions about medical history and lifestyle, and took a treadmill test to evaluate their cardiovascular fitness. In addition, their height, weight, percent of body fat and waist size were measured, as well as blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.
Study participants were recruited between 1979 and 2003, and followed until the end of 2003 or until they died.
The researchers found that among obese individuals, 46 percent were heart healthy and had a 38 percent lower risk of dying than those obese people who were not heart healthy.
Moreover, those healthy obese had
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