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People that are overweight or obese are at risk of heart disease regardless if they seem medically healthy, according to medical experts.

 

Researchers have posted their study in the European Heart Journal, debunking the "fat but fit" phenomenon.

 

Half a million people from 10 different European countries were involved in the study.

 

Their blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels were tested and all were normal and healthy. The same groups were tested again after 12 years, and 7,637 of them had developed heart disease.

 

According to the research, overweight or obese subjects were 28 percent more likely to develop heart disease than people with similar readings and a healthy body mass.

 

“Our findings suggest that if a patient is overweight or obese, all efforts should be made to help them get back to a healthy weight, regardless of other factors,” wrote lead author of the study, Dr Camille Lassale.

 

“Even if their blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol appear within the normal range, excess weight is still a risk factor."

 

 

Experts at Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge said the results tell us that excess weight can store up, prompting health issues later in life.

 

"I think there is no longer this concept of healthy obese,” said Dr Ioanna Tzoulaki, from Imperial's School of Public Health.

 

“If anything, our study shows that people with excess weight who might be classed as 'healthy' haven't yet developed an unhealthy metabolic profile. That comes later in the timeline, then they have an event, such as a heart attack."

 

The experts concluded that extra weight may not necessarily increase the risk of heart disease directly but instead, the effect occurs over time with higher blood pressure and high glucose levels.

 

"The take-home message here is that maintaining a healthy body weight is a key step towards maintaining a healthy heart," said Professor Metin Avkiran, from the British Heart Foundation, which part-funded the study.

 

Dr Knapton, from the same foundation, explained that it's not necessarily people’s fault they’re not as healthy as they could be. He believes there should be more healthy options available and people should be encouraged more to pursue a healthy lifestyle.

 

"This is not about laying the blame at individuals, though. This is a wake-up call for planners, local councillors, food manufacturers and the government to make sure we can make healthy choices more easily."

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