Excess weight linked with worse heart health even if you exercise

In the journals

Published: May, 2021

Can you be "fat and fit" — that is, overweight but still healthy because of regular exercise? There is no simple answer. But one study says that activity does not entirely reverse the effects weight has on heart health. The findings were published online Jan. 26, 2021, by the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

The study involved more than 527,000 adults, almost 70% of whom were men. People were placed into three groups based on their body mass index (BMI): normal, overweight, and obese. They also were grouped by activity level: regularly active (the minimum requirement from the World Health Organization, or WHO); insufficiently active (less than the WHO minimum, but some moderate to vigorous physical activity every week), and no exercise.

When all the data were compared, there was good and not-so-good news. The good news: no matter a person's BMI, any level of activity was linked with a lower likelihood of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes compared with doing no exercise.

The not-so-good news: overweight and especially obese people still were at greater cardiovascular risk than those with normal weight, regardless of activity levels. The results only showed an association, but they suggest that while regular exercise is essential, people still need to pay attention to excess weight.

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