This is a matter that is being written about widely these days, and I have been following it with some interest.
Now, what is healthy obesity?
Diabetologia, a reputed journal, conducted a study to understand how a section of worryingly overweight individuals display healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and are not at risk of diabetes. It found that “compared with their healthier counterparts, people who are obese but metabolically unhealthy have impaired mitochondria, the cellular powerhouses that harvest energy from food, as well as a reduced ability to generate new fat cells. Unlike fat tissue in healthy obese people, which generates new cells to help store fat as it accumulates, the fat cells of the unhealthy obese swell to their breaking point, straining the cellular machinery and ultimately dying off.”
In unhealthy obese people, this process leads to inflammation and accumulation of fat in organs such as the liver, heart and skeletal muscle, where it does not belong. Especially if the liver gets fatty, it causes insulin resistance, and then, could lead to Type 2 diabetes.
What happens in healthy obese people, though, is that the fat stays in the subcutaneous padding beneath the skin, where it causes no harm.
Studies conducted so far seem to indicate that being healthily obese is a transient phase, and such people usually end up being unhealthily obese.
I am deeply interested in these theories and findings because they help us understand the complex issue of obesity better. How are some people healthily obese and what causes the slide into disease? Diet, genes, alcohol consumption, or just a stressful lifestyle?
Either way, the doctors conducting the studies have stressed and I join them in saying – obesity is never healthy. Even if it appears to be for a short period of time, it is intrinsically an unhealthy way of living. What we can hope for is that these studies help us eventually prevent any kind of obesity altogether.