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CBC's Dr. Peter Lin: is it possible to be fat and fit?

A new study out of Sweden suggests that being 'fat and fit' is a myth.

New research out of Sweden looks at whether bigger waistlines mean shorter lifetime

Swedish researchers suggest that it's not possible to be fat but fit. (iStock)

A new study by Swedish researchers finds it's not possible to be "fat and fit." Instead they are suggesting those who are obese but exercise regularly are likely to die before those who are slim and unfit. 

The study of 1.3 million men looked at their aerobic fitness levels at age 18 and tracked the men for 30 years. 

The researchers found that obese men with high levels of aerobic fitness were 30 per cent more likely to die prematurely, compared to those who were skinny but unfit.

CBC's medical columnist Dr. Peter Lin says even though physical activity is important, it cannot get rid of all the risks associated with obesity. 

"Bottom line is we cannot say that fat is the thing that kills you," he said.

"Patients that are overweight, they tend to have higher blood pressure, they tend to have higher cholesterol, they have higher sugars so more diabetes. So all of those things can contribute to having problems," he said.

Dr. Lin says the study is not comprehensive because it only looks at fitness levels of the recruits at 18 years of age. It also doesn't look at women or where the fat is. 

"We didn't think it was important back then," he said. "But that kind of fat that is inside your belly is the one that is making these hormones to have high-blood pressure and those kind of things."

Dr. Lin's takeaway from the study is to take small steps to stay at a normal weight and stay fit. 

To hear the full interview click on the audio labelled Can you be fat and fit? on the CBC's The Early Edition.


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