Dueling headlines make my head hurt

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In the same day I got both of these headlines more than once in my Facebook newsfeed:

1. New Study Lends More Weight To ‘Fat But Fit’ Theory –

Researchers at Middle Tennessee State University, led by exercise scientist Vaughn Barry, Ph.D., examined 10 past studies that recorded information about participants’ body mass indexes and fitness levels. The studies looked at the weight and fitness levels of thousands of participants (the largest one included 21,856 people) and continued to follow up with the participants over several years, ranging from an average of 7.7 years to an average of 16 years.

Barry’s team crunched the numbers on those past studies by dividing participants into three weight categories based on BMI: normal weight, overweight and obese. Then they put them into two categories based on their performance on an endurance test (in most studies, this involved running on a treadmill): fit and unfit.

They found that fitness levels, not weight, predicted whether or not a participant had died in the study’s intervening years. Unfit people, regardless of their weight, had twice the risk of dying during the study than fit people, and overweight and obese people who were fit had similar mortality risks as fit, normal weight participants. Another way of putting it: thin, unfit people had twice the mortality risk as obese fit people.

The study was recently published in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases

2. ‘Healthy and overweight’ is a myth, study suggests

Excess fat still carries health risks even when cholesterol, blood pressure and sugar levels are normal, according to a study of more than 60,000 people.

It has been argued that being overweight does not necessarily imply health risks if individuals remain healthy in other ways.

The research, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, contradicts this idea.

The study looked at findings from more than 1,000 published studies.

Researchers from the Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, found there was no healthy pattern of increased weight when heart health was monitored for more than 10 years.

They argue that people who are metabolically healthy but overweight probably have underlying risk factors that worsen over time.

Study leader Dr Ravi Retnakaran told BBC News: “This really casts doubt on the existence of healthy obesity.

“This data is suggesting that both patients who are obese who are metabolically unhealthy and patients who are obese who are metabolically healthy are both at increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, such that benign obesity may indeed be a myth.”

From a certain perspective the stories could both be right and not contradict one another. It might be that fat and fit people have health risks but are still better off than the unfit and thin. It might be that weight matters but that fitness matters more.

But having both these stories in my newsfeed on the same day being offered up by friends on different sides of the great weight debates made my head hurt.

Excuse me while I go watch some comfort TV, Once Upon a Time, and cheer on the Evil Regals. Yes, I know it’s not the best TV out there but I watch with resident teenagers and it’s got some kick ass women as both villains and heroes. Love the women in that show, even Snow for all that she annoys me.

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