Health at every size?

Maybe it seems like I “pick on” people who are overweight. If so, I hope you understand that’s not my intention.

I harp on the issue because I know staying lean is of critical importance to your health. And also because I had a weight problem myself years ago. So if anyone understands the struggles and the difficulties that one must go through on a daily basis to maintain or achieve a normal weight, it’s me.

I know better than anyone how crucial it is to be sensitive to these issues. But at the same time, I’m discouraged by some of the mixed messages I’ve been coming across lately.

With so many people overweight now (let’s face it, fat is rapidly becoming the norm, rather than the exception) it seems that even the scientific community is to looking for ways to justify being obese.

I recently read about a study that perfectly illustrates this new spin. So I figured I would share the details with you. And you can decide for yourself what you think about it.

These researchers looked at data from more than 2,000 men and women between the ages of 50 and 69. Out of these people, 668 were obese (with a BMI of 30 or greater).

The researchers also assessed the subjects’ metabolic health, classifying each as either metabolically healthy or unhealthy according to a number of key factors. These included blood pressure, triglycerides, LDL levels, HDL levels, total cholesterol levels, fasting blood sugar, and measures of insulin resistance.

They also evaluated a number of inflammation markers–including adipocytokines, pro-inflammatory cytokines, and white blood cell counts. This study was fancy… and as you can see, quite thorough.

So what did results show? Well, for one thing, both obese and non-obese subjects who met the standards for metabolic health had lower levels of inflammatory markers (like C-reactive protein, IL-6, TNF-alpha, and white blood cell counts).

They also had higher levels of adiponectin. (As you might recall, this hormone originates in fat cells and is essential for appetite regulation and efficient metabolism.)

Ultimately, obese subjects were more than three times more likely to be in good metabolic health if their levels of these inflammatory biomarkers fell into the normal range.

The researchers refer to this phenomenon as “metabolically healthy obesity.” That is, having a BMI over 30 without having any other risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. And it would appear that more than a third of all obese people may actually be metabolically healthy, despite their larger size.

Of course, the most important takeaway of this study is that controlling inflammation is the real secret to metabolic health, regardless of your size. And this is something I stress with all of my patients.

If this study is to be believed, then it proves my theory that inflammation is the root of all evil. Right next to sugar. Which, of course, is a leading cause of inflammation. (Not to mention obesity.)

It’s such a vicious cycle–one with horrible, lethal consequences. So I can only ask that you take these results for what they’re worth, and keep fighting the good fight. By following my New Hamptons Health Miracle and making smart choices that will help you achieve optimal health–at every size.

“Does inflammation determine metabolic health status in obese and nonobese adults?” J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Oct;98(10):E1610-9.