It is not possible to be fat and fit at the same time, French experts have concluded.
A study of 3million people found even volunteers who were obese but ‘metabolically healthy’ still had a much higher chance of suffering heart problems.
Obese people with normal blood pressure and who were not diabetic were still at a 34 per cent increased risk of heart failure and a similar risk of an irregular heart beat.
Lead author Dr Laurent Fauchier, a cardiologist at Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Trousseau, said the idea that people can be ‘fat but fit’ was ‘simply untrue’.
Last week, an American study found that people simply need to focus on exercise rather than dieting to live longer.
It is possible to be ‘fat but fit’ – people simply need to focus on exercise rather than dieting to live longer, experts now claim (stock image)
The latest French research was presented to the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.
It looked at the medical records of around 2.9million adults, of whom about one in 10 were obese.
All participants had been admitted to French hospitals in 2013 and had not had any major cardiovascular issues in the past, including a heart attack or stroke. They were monitored for five years.
Dr Fauchier said: ‘This new and best available evidence tells us that on a population level, the idea that large numbers of people can be obese but metabolically healthy is simply untrue.’
Overeating ‘is NOT the primary cause of obesity, scientists claim
Overeating is not the main cause of obesity, scientists have claimed.
They say that consuming the wrong types of foods — rather than too much — is the real driver of one of the biggest health crises in the West.
The team of American researchers are calling for a complete rethink to public health messaging on obesity, with the focus now to be on foods high in processed sugar.
They say that snacks such as sweets, fizzy drinks and sugary cereals trigger hormonal imbalances that cause hunger spikes and weight gain.
Dr David Ludwig, an endocrinologist at Boston Children’s Hospital, said it was time to scrap the ‘century-old’ idea that obesity is caused by ‘consuming more energy than we expend’.
Around four in 10 American adults and three in 10 adults Britons are obese, which puts them at higher risk of heart disease, stroke, type two diabetes and cancer.
The report comes as the UK has been chosen by the World Health Organization to work with countries across Europe to reduce national sugar intake.
The cardiologist refutes the controversial claim made by Arizona and Virginia researchers last week that people can be fat and fit.
American researchers who reviewed existing studies said that when it came to trying to get healthy and cutting the risk of dying early, increasing exercise and improving fitness was more effective than shedding flab.
Numerous studies have shown how people around the world have been trying to lose weight over the past 40 years, and yet obesity has continued to rise.
Professor Glenn Gaesser, from the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University, and associate professor Siddhartha Angadi, from the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Virginia, believe this would also cut the health risks associated with so-called yo-yo dieting in which people lose weight only to gain it again in repeating cycles.
They said last week: ‘A weight-centric approach to obesity treatment and prevention has been largely ineffective.
‘Moreover, repeated weight loss efforts may contribute to weight gain, and is undoubtedly associated with the high prevalence of weight cycling (yo-yo dieting), which is associated with significant health risks.
‘Many obesity-related health conditions are more likely attributable to low physical activity and cardio-respiratory fitness rather than obesity per se.’
The researchers said that adopting what they called a ‘weight-neutral approach’ did not mean weight loss should be ‘categorically discouraged’.
They added: ‘But shifting the focus away from weight loss as the primary goal and instead focusing on increasing physical activity to improve cardio-respiratory fitness may be prudent for treating obesity-related health conditions.’
Their claims appear to contradict a study published this summer by Glasgow University researchers who tracked 381,263 adults over 11 years. They concluded it was not possible to be fat but fit – a misleading phrase that doctors should stop using.
Those who were ‘metabolically healthy’ but obese were 22 per cent more likely to die than those of a normal weight. They were also 18 per cent more likely to have a heart attack or stroke, 76 per cent more likely to develop heart failure and four times more likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes.
However, writing in the journal iScience, Professor Gaesser said: ‘Fat can be fit, and fit, healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes.
‘In a weight-obsessed culture it may be challenging for programmes that are not focused on weight loss to gain traction.
‘We’re not necessarily against weight loss – we just think it shouldn’t be the primary criterion for judging the success of a lifestyle intervention programme.’