Being fat or overweight has long been linked with ill health. Obese people are generally thought to be more likely to die than the average-sized person.
But according to recent studies, obesity on its own doesn't lower one's life expectancy and being fat doesn't always mean one is unhealthy.
Per Eurekalert, a research team at York University in Toronto have discovered that there are other factors, which admittedly often accompany obesity, that contribute to increased mortality rates in oversized people.
Simply being fat doesn't have to affect one's health negatively unless a person is also suffering from some other metabolic issues such as high blood sugar or high levels of bad cholesterol.
"This is in contrast with most of the literature and we think this is because most studies have defined metabolic healthy obesity as having up to one metabolic risk factor," says Jennifer Kuk, who works as an associate professor of kinesiology at the said institution.
"This is clearly problematic, as hypertension alone increases your mortality risk and past literature would have called these patients with obesity and hypertension, 'healthy'. This is likely why most studies have reported that 'healthy' obesity is still related with higher mortality risk."
The study observed data from 54,089 men and women from five other studies and separated them into two groups, one consisting of persons who were obese and had no metabolic issues and another made up of subjects who were also obese but suffered from metabolic problems.
The researchers then went on to look at how many individuals in each group died and juxtaposed the figures of their death rates to that of average-sized persons bereft of metabolic factors.
"We're showing that individuals with metabolically healthy obesity are actually not at an elevated mortality rate. We found that a person of normal weight with no other metabolic risk factors is just as likely to die as the person with obesity and no other risk factors," Kuk continued.
"This means that hundreds of thousands of people in North America alone with metabolically healthy obesity will be told to lose weight when it's questionable how much benefit they'll actually receive."
In short, one could be both perfectly healthy and fat. And according to this study, there's hardly any reason to be alarmed over simply being overweight as long as other things are in order.