Believe it or not, new research is beginning to show that a person who is obese isn’t necessarily unfit. These findings come according to a new study from the University of South Carolina.

As reported by BBC, researchers studied 43,000 overweight individuals. One-third of the participants were obese – the men having at least 25 percent body fat and the women having at least 32 percent body fat. Much to researchers surprise, nearly half of the obese participants were determined to be metabolically healthy after undergoing an intense physical exam.

Those not suffering from obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension and high blood pressure, were found to have better exercise habits compared to those who were dealing with serious health conditions. This group was also found to have lower chances of death from cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The term they’re using to refer to the clinically obese but still in good shape? “Metabolically fit,” according to the study’s formal report published in the European Heart Journal.

Of the participants studied, many had similar health backgrounds, which could mean results may vary drastically with an entirely different group of participants. What this group did have in common was a majority were Caucasian, had an education, and were employed in professional settings.

“In the majority of cases, obesity is an undeniable risk factor for developing coronary heart disease. However, these studies remind us that it is not always your weight that’s important, but where you carry fat and also how it affects your health and fitness,” said Amy Thompson of the British Heart Foundation. “It is particularly important to be aware of your weight if you are carrying excess fat around your middle. The fat cells here are really active, producing toxic substances that cause damage which can lead to heart disease.

Thompson also added, “Maintaining a healthy diet with lots of physical activity can help to slim you down as well as reduce your risk of heart health problems, but don’t get too caught up on the numbers on the scale. Calculating your body mass index and measuring your waist are great ways to keep on track.”

For those concerned about their weight and wanting to make changes to their lifestyle, Thompson suggests making an appointment with their general practitioner to formulate a healthy plan together. In summary, even if you’re carrying a few extra pounds around, exercising on a regular basis will keep you healthier.

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