New Study: Being Healthy With Obesity is Not Possible
We have all met seriously overweight people who claim that they go to the doctor and the doctor says, “You’re healthy, see you next year.” One might imagine that the doctor may have said...
- I’m worried about your weight but your labs today appear to be within normal limits
- Do you want to talk about some lifestyle changes even though your lab work isn’t showing any disease (yet). “No,” says the patient.
- Your BMI is in the range of heightened risk for diseases, though your lab work at this time appears to be within normal limits. I am concerned.
I meet seriously overweight individuals, quite frequently, as a Health Coach. Most of the time, they show up to my office, when a disease appears in the form of abnormal lab results or symptoms, and the doctor recommends an intervention. Many of them already suffer with aches and pains that result from the excess weight, but they refuse to link the two. Those aches and pains often foreshadow arthritis, which will come with significant pain. At that point, it also becomes too painful to exercise. But until an actual diagnosis of disease occurs, there’s an awful lot of denial. And when labs come up “normal,” it’s almost impossible to then have the “your weight is dangerous conversation.” A new study may finally offer the wake-up call necessary to motivate conversation and action.
The study suggests that the notion of healthy obesity is just that, a notion and not a reality. Researchers looked at 14,828 healthy Korean adults, ages 30 to 59, showing no signs of heart disease and appearing metabolically healthy. The subjects had all undergone a standard health checkup and then cardiac tomography, to assess their calcium scores. These scores measure calcium build up or plaque on arterial walls, and certain scores indicate early heart disease or atherosclerosis, before symptoms and before other lab results pick it up. The researchers found that the obese individuals had a much higher rate of subclinical (not obvious) coronary atherosclerosis compared to the normal weight subjects.
The lead researcher's conclusion was that obese individuals who consider themselves “healthy,” may have silent changes internally that represent clear precursors to frank disease – they just have not revealed themselves yet. And only certain tests, sometimes quite expensive tests, would identify these early changes. Lifestyle changes could intercept and even reverse some of these early disease scenarios. First, however, the patient needs to break out of denial. When a disease or significant symptoms are not present, we can all go into fantasy mode……but when obesity is present, you are not healthy. Let’s stop the denial, especially when it comes to our kids and obesity.
Amy Hendel is a Physician Assistant and Health Coach with over 20 years of experience. Noted author, journalist and lifestyle expert, she brings extensive expertise to her monthly shareposts. Her most recent book, The 4 Habits of Healthy Families is available for purchase online, and you can watch her in action on her shows Food Rescue and What's for Lunch? Sign up for her daily health tweets or catch her daily news report at www.healthgal.com.