Tags: Obesity | obesity | paradox | heavy | healthy

Think You Need to Lose Weight? Sometimes Heavier Is Healthier

By    |   Monday, 23 March 2015 09:18 AM

If you’re a few pounds overweight and struggling to lose those extra pounds, Carl J. Lavie, M.D., has a message for you: “Relax.”
 
Body fat isn’t always bad. If you’re otherwise fit and healthy, those extra pounds actually may make you healthier in some ways than thinner people.
 
More than 10 years ago, Dr. Lavie, a cardiologist at New Orleans’ Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute, realized that his patients who were overweight had half the mortality rate of normal-weight people who were recovering from heart failure.
 
About the same time, Luis Gruberg, M.D., at the Cardiovascular Research Institute in Washington, D.C., found that overweight and obese patients died at half the rate of normal-weight people following angioplasty. Dr. Gruberg nicknamed the phenomenon the “obesity paradox.”
 
Dr. Lavie also read studies — ignored by most medical experts — which found that overweight people with chronic ailments ranging from heart disease to cancer and AIDs, tended to do better and live longer than people with the same diseases who were normal weight.
 
Puzzled, he began to delve into the way “fat” and “healthy” are defined.
 
The result is his groundbreaking new book, “The Obesity Paradox: When Thinner Means Sicker and Heavier Means Healthier.”
 
“Society has often led to people being fixated with extreme thinness, particularly for appearance,” Dr. Lavie tells Newsmax Health. “However, almost every study shows that the underweight and the low end of ‘normal’ weight almost always have the highest mortality rates.”
 
While he does agree that being overweight can increase risk of heart attack, he says the odds of surviving one are much better for a fat person than a thin one.
 
In fact, statistics show a heavy person has a better chance to survive a heart attack than someone of normal weight, Dr. Lavie notes.
 
The reason? Recovering from a heart attack — or fighting any ailment — requires energy.
 
 It is a simple fact that heavier people have more stored energy.
 
“Many people who are very thin have low muscle mass, low physical activity, and are unfit,” he says. “That is a deadly combination.”
 
In addition, all fat is not created equal, says Dr. Lavie. It depends where in the body the fat is located. “It’s just like real estate — location, location, location.”
 
Abdominal fat raises the risk for disease, but fat carried on hips, thighs, and upper arms doesn’t carry the same risks and may actually fight cardiovascular disease.
 
“While I’m not promoting obesity, being fat but fit is much better than being thin and unfit,” Dr. Lavie says.
 
“A middle age or older person may want to lose weight if they want to fit in a smaller dress size or suit, or if it helps their knees or hips or back, but from a general health and survival standpoint, having 10 to 15 extra pounds — or even 20 to 30 — is often associated with excellent survival.
 
“Regardless of your weight, if you don’t have serious metabolic conditions like uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes or lipid disorders such as dangerously high cholesterol or significantly elevated blood pressure, and if you are cardiovascularly fit, you are healthy,” says Dr. Lavie.
 
“This means you can be considered overweight by modern standards, but still healthy by many other measures.”
 
“The obesity paradox is even more noted in older folks than in the young,” says Dr. Lavie. “Older people can be very healthy with weights typically considered in the ‘overweight’ and ‘mildly obese’ ranges, especially if they are fit.”
 
Dieting can be deadly in seniors, he says, since we are designed by nature to gain a little weight as we age.
 
“If you have to choose between being fat or fit, go for fit,” he says.
 
The full version of this article appeared in Health Radar newsletter. To read more, click here.
 
 

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Is it possible to be overweight and still healthy? A new book argues the answer is a resounding 'yes.' As long as you engage in healthy habits and are physically fit, carrying a few extra pounds is no reason for alarm, say two top docs.
obesity, paradox, heavy, healthy
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2015-18-23
Monday, 23 March 2015 09:18 AM
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