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You CAN be fat but fit: Exercise could be better for your health than losing weight, experts say 

You CAN be fat but fit: Exercise could be better for your health than losing weight, experts say

  • Experts claim that it is completely possible for people to be ‘fat but fit’
  • They say that people need to focus on exercise rather than dieting to live longer
  • Researchers, examining existing studies, said increased fitness reduce chances of dying early


It is possible to be ‘fat but fit’ – people simply need to focus on exercise rather than dieting to live longer, experts now claim.

Researchers who reviewed existing studies said that when it came to trying to get healthy and cutting the risk of dying early, increasing exercise and improving fitness was more effective than shedding flab.

Numerous studies have shown how people around the world have been trying to lose weight over the past 40 years, and yet obesity has continued to rise.

It is possible to be ‘fat but fit’ – people simply need to focus on exercise rather than dieting to live longer, experts now claim (stock image)

Professor Glenn Gaesser, from the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University, and associate professor Siddhartha Angadi, from the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Virginia, believe this would also cut the health risks associated with so-called yo-yo dieting in which people lose weight only to gain it again in repeating cycles.

They said: ‘A weight-centric approach to obesity treatment and prevention has been largely ineffective.

‘Moreover, repeated weight loss efforts may contribute to weight gain, and is undoubtedly associated with the high prevalence of weight cycling (yo-yo dieting), which is associated with significant health risks.

‘Many obesity-related health conditions are more likely attributable to low physical activity and cardio-respiratory fitness rather than obesity per se.’

The researchers said that adopting what they called a ‘weight-neutral approach’ did not mean weight loss should be ‘categorically discouraged’.

They added: ‘But shifting the focus away from weight loss as the primary goal and instead focusing on increasing physical activity to improve cardio-respiratory fitness may be prudent for treating obesity-related health conditions.’

Researchers who reviewed existing studies said that when it came to trying to get healthy and cutting the risk of dying early, increasing exercise and improving fitness was more effective than shedding flab (stock image)

Researchers who reviewed existing studies said that when it came to trying to get healthy and cutting the risk of dying early, increasing exercise and improving fitness was more effective than shedding flab (stock image)

Their claims appear to contradict a study published this summer by Glasgow University researchers who tracked 381,263 adults over 11 years. They concluded it was not possible to be fat but fit – a misleading phrase that doctors should stop using.

Those who were ‘metabolically healthy’ but obese were 22 per cent more likely to die than those of a normal weight. They were also 18 per cent more likely to have a heart attack or stroke, 76 per cent more likely to develop heart failure and four times more likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes.

However, writing in the journal iScience, Professor Gaesser said: ‘Fat can be fit, and fit, healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes.

‘In a weight-obsessed culture it may be challenging for programmes that are not focused on weight loss to gain traction.

‘We’re not necessarily against weight loss – we just think it shouldn’t be the primary criterion for judging the success of a lifestyle intervention programme.’

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