Posted Aug 13, 2008 – Some obese people don't appear to have a higher risk for heart disease, while some normal-weight people appear to have a variety of heart risks, according to two new studies.
"The prevalence of obesity is increasing worldwide, and this epidemic is accompanied by a high incidence of type 2 diabetes …. and cardiovascular disease," the authors write as background information in one of the articles, ScienceDaily.com points out.
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But research, published in the August 11 Issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, a JAMA/Archives journal, shows that in addition to overall obesity, the way body fat is distributed may decide whether a person has a heart disease or diabetes risk.
For instance, people with fat around the tummy—estimated by measuring waist size—appear to be at higher risk for insulin resistance (a pre-diabetic condition that occurs when the body fails to respond to the hormone insulin) and for having an unhealthy heart disease profile.
In one study, individuals in the obese–insulin sensitive group did not differ from the normal-weight group in insulin sensitivity or artery wall thickness, the authors note. "In conclusion, we provide evidence that a metabolically benign obesity can be identified and that it may protect from insulin resistance and atherosclerosis," Norbert Stefan, M.D., and colleagues at the University of Tübingen, Germany, wrote about their study of 314 individuals age 18 to 69 (average age 45).
The second study found that among U.S. adults 20-years-old and older, 23.5 percent (about 12 million adults) that were of normal weight had abnormal metabolisms – indicating that they were candidates for either pre-diabetes problems or heart disease.
Conversely, 51 percent (about 36 million adults) who were overweight and 31.7 percent who were considered obese had healthy metabolisms, researchers from the Albert Einstein College of medicine in the Bronx found.
They also discovered that the average weight people with slow metabolisms tended to be older, less physically active and had large waists.
Bottom line, both studies seem to indicate, is that waist size had more to do with whether a person had an increased risk for heart disease or diabetes than their actual weight. With that in mind, experts say, that the best way to drop your risk of obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, it’s best to maintain a healthy weight, keep your BMI (Body Mass Index – a measure of body fat based on your height) within the safe zone, and drop those pounds around the middle.