Can you be obese and healthy? Yes, absolutely, especially if you do not have a metabolic illness and/or are also physically fit.

Staying lean with aging may be a health benefit

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Can you be obese and healthy? Yes, absolutely, especially if you do not have a metabolic illness and/or are also physically fit. But being obese today may eventually catch up with your health, and down the road-of-life cardiovascular disease may start to show up. A recent review by nutrition researchers of data collected from 90,000 women in the Nurses’ Health Study shows that obesity still increased cardiovascular disease risk later in life. The women were followed for 30 years.

Whether the women in this study were of normal weight or obese, there was a higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes) years down the road if they had one or more of the following risk factors:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol

Body weight does seem to matter….. eventually.  Women who were healthy but obese still had a 39 percent higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease later in life.

This review of collected data does not prove that obesity causes cardiovascular disease but it did show that it may increase a woman’s risk even if she is metabolically healthy, meaning she does not have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes. Add those chronic health conditions and everything changes for the worse.

This study also showed that women who were either obese or at a healthy weight at the start of the study did develop metabolic health issues 20 years later. We just don’t seem to take care of our health or weight very well as we age. And even though people typically gain weight with aging it doesn’t mean we should expect that to happen. Wise food choices with many plant-based menus and regular (daily) exercise can be the answer for aging lean.

Recipes to try:

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.