You might think that slim people are always healthier than overweight ones. That’s not entirely true.
Recent research says lean people who have certain health issues can have a higher chance of getting heart diseases compared to obese people who are metabolically healthy. Let’s dive deeper into this fascinating topic.
Metabolic Health: Why it’s Important
We often talk about leading a healthy lifestyle. But what does it mean to be “metabolically healthy”? This term is gaining popularity among scientists.
It refers to having normal levels of important health markers like blood pressure, blood sugar, good cholesterol (HDL), and bad fats (triglycerides).
If you have fewer than two issues with these markers, you’re considered metabolically healthy.
But there’s a twist. Even if your weight is normal, you can still be metabolically unhealthy (MUHNW).
On the other hand, you might be obese but metabolically healthy (MHO). These are subtypes of people who can have very different risks of heart diseases.
Unpacking the Research: Dangers of Being Slim but Unhealthy
Norbert Stefan from Helmholtz Munich, the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) and the University of Tübingen, and Matthias B. Schulze from the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke and the DZD are trying to find out more about these different risk levels.
Stefan, Schulze, and their team discovered that if you’re MUHNW, your risk of heart disease can be double that of a person who is metabolically healthy but has normal weight (MHNW).
If you’re MHO, your risk is increased by 45% compared to MHNW people.
This doesn’t mean all slim people are at risk. In fact, Stefan and Schulze found that the risks are more linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, and a high waist-to-hip ratio than to weight alone.
This shows that it’s not just about the numbers on the scale, but where the fat is located in your body.
The Big Questions: How to Better Predict Health Risks?
Stefan and Schulze also used something called “cluster analysis”. This is a way to group people based on common characteristics.
They found that people can be grouped into different clusters or types based on various factors such as low insulin production, insulin resistance, fatty liver, visceral obesity, mild age-related diabetes, and mild obesity-related diabetes.
The big question now is: can these new ideas about metabolic health and risk clusters help us better predict who will get heart diseases and type 2 diabetes?
Right now, Stefan and Schulze think these new ideas may not be better than what doctors currently use to predict risks.
However, they might be useful for specific groups of people, like those with different BMI categories or those with type 2 diabetes.
Keeping the Conversation Simple
Even though this all sounds a bit complicated, it might actually make things easier for doctors. They can use these concepts to explain health risks to their patients.
One important thing to remember is that being metabolically healthy or unhealthy, or belonging to a specific risk cluster, can change over time.
So even if you’re in a riskier group now, you can still make changes to improve your health.
Stefan and Schulze’s work is not the final word on this subject.
More studies need to be done to see if these new ways of looking at health risks can help doctors do a better job of predicting who might get heart disease or type 2 diabetes, and how best to treat them.
But their research is an important step in understanding that not all slim people are healthy, and not all overweight people are at high risk of disease.
It’s a reminder that it’s not just about the numbers on the scale, but also about being metabolically healthy.
If you care about diabetes, please read studies about a cure for type 2 diabetes, and why insulin is more expensive for people with diabetes.
For more information about diabetes, please see recent studies about bone drugs that could lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, and results showing eating more eggs is linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
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