The concept of “fat but fit” has been discussed throughout the past decade, but a new study shows that obesity dismisses the benefits gained from regular fitness activities, effectively rejecting said concept. The study in question was carried out in Sweden at it engulfed over 1.3 million people for a follow-up period of 29 years.
The importance of this study stems from the fact that about 40% adults were found to be overweight in 2014 by the World Health Organization. Although currently, the popularity of working out and fitness training has been increasing, the percentage of overweight people has remained more or less the same, even increasing in some regions.
The study carefully viewed the Body Mass Index of the participants, as well as subjecting them to cycling. People were asked to cycle for as long as they could, before being subjected to fatigue, in order to see the levels of their aerobic fitness.
Normal people that did not have a very high level of fitness and did not usually go to the gym presented a lower risk towards premature death when compared to overweight people that usually worked out. The 30% decreased risk possessed by normal individuals was lowered by 2% in overweight subjects. Those that had a BMI between 30 and 34, qualifying them as obese, risk levels were lowered to 26%.
Although this is the case, the benefits gained from regular exercise are still present for obese people. The findings of this study do not mean that overweight people should stop working out. The main factor which influences this risk is the metabolic level. By having a lower level, people are more vulnerable to an increase in cholesterol, as well as blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
But even if metabolically fit, while still having a high BMI, risks will still be present. More inquiries have to be made on the subject in order to further discern the exact factors which lead to benefits lowering in people who are overweight but still have a relatively healthy lifestyle and undergo fitness training.
The portion of the study group which had extremely obese people posed no benefits at all from high aerobic fitness. This was rather disconcerting for people currently in this situation that try to lower their risk of death by going to the gym on a regular basis. If the option of exercising is declared void, extremely obese people are left with just severe diets and in worst cases, surgery.
People have to take into account that even if this study had 1.3 million participants, every study find has to be taken with a pinch of salt. Premature death can be influenced by factors ranging from stress levels to the air we breathe. Without having a completely controlled environment, this type of research is more akin to correlation studies, instead of causation.
If obesity dismisses the benefits of regular fitness activities, researchers have to find another efficient way of lowering death risk in obese people. Precision diets, customized to each individual’s genetic makeup, or other similar methods may become more efficient in the near future if this study is proven to be completely true.