A study out of Sweden recently revealed that fitness may only provide life longevity to ‘normal-weight’ people. Reviewing 1.3 million younger Swedish males, the study’s findings showed the normal-weight individuals that were the least fit had less chances of dying over the next few decades, versus those men that were fit, yet obese. Senior author Peter Nordstrom, University in Sweden commented, saying the findings reveal that being a normal weight when younger, might be more important that being fit.
Nordstrom and his colleagues stated the idea of being ‘fat but fit’ has become a trend in recent years, however there could be issues to this when it relates to the health of the general public. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2014, approximately 40% of adults worldwide were overweight; of this number, 13 % suffered from obesity. This is defined by the body mass index (BMI): a measurement that evaluates an individual’s weight according to their height. The WHO states that an increased BMI figure also increases the risk of diabetes, musculoskeletal issues, some cancers, and cardiovascular disease.
Rueters reports that this Swedish study began its review of their male participants at aged 18, and tracked them for approximately 29 following years. While the research team measured their BMI, they also reviewed their fitness levels through bike exercises, seeing how long the males could pedal before they got tired. Upon the follow up periods, over 44,300 of these men had passed away.
These results revealed that those men who had first be placed within the top levels of fitness near the start of the study (1969), were half as likely to pass away, then those in the bottom-fifth level of fitness. The team also categorized participants as it related to BMI. As such, this revealed a decreasing advantage, as it relates to fitness and risk of death, as the BMI number went higher.
When it came to normal-weight men, those individuals that found themselves in the top half of fitness at the beginning of the study were 34 percent less likely to pass during follow up, versus those individuals in the lower half of the fitness list. That decreased to 28 percent when it came to individuals who were overweight, and 26 percent for those who were obese (BMI of 30-35). This percentage disappeared when it came to severely obese males, with BMI measurements of 35 and higher.
Nordstom said these finding do not mean that obese individuals should refrain from exercise. Still, he did state that the next step would be experiments that figure out the effects of physical activity on individuals to further explain these results.