Fat But Fit – Fact Or Fiction? We Tell You The Bare Bones Truth!

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

You have probably heard the term “fat but fit” to describe people who are overweight, or even obese, but get plenty of aerobic exercise. The truth is that studies show that people who are considered to be obese, but physically fit are still much more likely to die young than people who are in poor shape but are of normal weight. This is according to a new study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

In the last decade, the idea of “fat but fit” has emerged, implying that being very active can compensate for being overweight or obese. This new study adds to a growing body of evidence which refutes this idea.

We are not trying to fat shame anyone, we are merely stating scientific facts.

Exercise provides us with very important health benefits. It only takes 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days a week to prevent or manage chronic disease, better than any drug on the market ever could. Obesity is a major factor for many of the same diseases that exercise can help to fight, including diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.

Although we would like to think it is true, evidence makes it plain that these two risk factors do not simply cancel each other out. To be truly healthy, you need to eat well, maintain a normal weight, and still get plenty of exercise.

This study was conducted on more than 1 million men in Sweden. They were first examined between the years of 1969 and 1996, when the subjects were 18 years of age. All of these men completed a high intensity cycling test in order to gauge their level of physical fitness. These subjects were then followed until the end of December in 2012.

Scientists found that 20 percent of the men who had the highest aerobic fitness levels were 48 percent less likely to die than the lowest 20 percent over the study time frame. The protective effect of being fit was actually strongest for drug abuse related deaths as well as suicide. Men with the lowest fitness levels were also found to be much more likely to die after a traumatic injury than men who were fit.

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Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

However, being obese greatly diminished the protective effects of being very fit. Scientists found that the more overweight a man was, the less protection he gained from exercise. Almost all of the obese subjects in this study had similar health results, regardless of how fit they were.

Even obese men who were among the top 20 percent of the most fit were still more likely to die an early death than men of normal weight who were at the bottom of the fitness scale.

Scientists admit that this study was limited because they only looked at young men, however, they insist that this study still shows that obese subjects cannot compensate for their weight by being physically fit.

Although no one really knows where this “fat but fit” phrase started, some suspect that this catch phrase started by some marketing genius at a fast food or junk food company. Fast food joints have been quick to grab onto this idea. The British Journal of Sports Medicine posted an editorial from researchers at the Frimley Park Hospital of the United Kingdom, the University of California at Davis, the Sports Science Institute of South Africa and the University of Cape Town, accusing fast food corporations of using tactics similar to the ones that tobacco companies used to downplay the deadly effects of their products.

The editorial’s authors took particular notice of the practice of ad campaigns that use sports images or sports figures to sell their junk foods and sugar filled drinks, as if their products were healthy things that athletes indulge in regularly. This attempt to legitimize their nutritionally deficient products is a sham that should be stopped or exposed for what it is.


READ ALSO: 13 Natural Steps To Activate Your Body’s Own Natural Fat Burning Hormones


These tactics by the junk food and fast food industries are an attempt to conceal the fact that a poor diet is the single greatest risk factor for poor health. Poor diet causes more disease, including obesity, around the world, than smoking, alcohol, and a lack of exercise combined, according to a study published in The Lancet journal.