What's Worse for Young People: Being Overweight or Not Exercising?

It's possible to be overweight and healthy, yet new research suggests that obesity is more dangerous than a lack of fitness.

A study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that the protective effects of fitness against early death are lacking in young, obese people.

"Although the detrimental effects of low aerobic fitness have been well documented, this research has largely been performed in older populations," a press release on the study stated. "Few studies have investigated the direct link between aerobic fitness and health in younger populations."

Fat but fit?

The study aimed to determine whether the "fat but fit" concept is actually true - that people can be extremely overweight but still be aerobically fit.

Results showed that men of normal weight, regardless of their fitness level, had a lower risk of death compared with obese individuals who had high levels of aerobic fitness. The study also found that the beneficial effects of high aerobic fitness was reduced with increased obesity. For those who are extremely obese - high aerobic fitness produced no significant results at all, the study found.

"Men in the highest fifth of aerobic fitness had a 48 percent lower risk of death from any cause compared with those in the lowest fifth," the news release said.

While the study was limited to only men, the findings do not support the idea that being "fat but fit" is healthy, the authors concluded.

Source: Oxford University Press

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