Being obese doesn’t automatically mean you’re destined for cardiovascular disease – although it certainly increases the odds. New research from the UK shows that the risk of developing heart problems depends on metabolic health, and not body size.Metabolic health means having normal levels of blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation.
Investigators followed 22,000 middle-aged men and women enrolled in health studies in England and Scotland. After seven years they looked at the number of deaths in the group and what caused them. They discovered more than 600 had died from heart-related disorders and 1,800 from other causes.
They found that obese but metabolically healthy participants were at no greater risk of death from cardiovascular disease than the metabolically healthy non-obese.But those in poor metabolic health – whether obese or not – had a 64 and 59 percent increased risk of dying from heart disease (respectively) than healthy non-obese. The metabolically unhealthy obese had a 72 percent higher risk of dying from causes other than heart disease compared to the metabolically healthy.
Here’s the bad news if you’re overweight: only slightly less than one quarter of the obese participants were metabolically healthy.