A new study led by two professors published in the journal iScience has found that people can be both fit and over weight—refuting the belief that fat people are inherently unhealthy.
The two are not mutually exclusively
The researchers, Dr. Glenn Gaesser and Dr. Siddhartha Angadi, from Arizona State University and University of Virginia respectively agree that people should focus on exercising rather than dieting. According to both scholars, shedding pounds by dieting does not contribute to leading a healthier lifestyle. They explain that:
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.
Instead, their research shows that the long term benefits of regular exercise in whatever which capacity the individual is able of is greater than the risk posed by often times counterproductive dieting. They said:
Many obesity-related health conditions are more likely attributable to low physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness rather than obesity per se.
Epidemiological studies show that cardiorespiratory fitness and physical activity significantly attenuate, and sometimes eliminate, the increased mortality risk associated with obesity.
Weight loss can still be practiced
As a result, they suggest that people looking to feel and look better should focus on cardiorespiratory fitness. Not only will exercise, at the very least, allow one to maintain their weight—whether fat or slender—but it will also decrease their chances of developing cardiovascular diseases. They also stress that these results should not discourage weight-loss. Ultimately, adopting a healthy lifestyle should include both eating healthy meals consistently and regularly exercising rather than purely focusing on being on a caloric deficit. They said:
Shifting the focus away from weight loss as the primary goal, and instead focusing on increasing physical activity to improve cardiorespiratory fitness, may be prudent for treating obesity-related health conditions.