Study: Obesity more dangerous than lack of fitness

WASHINGTON — We are all encouraged to exercise more, but it appears obesity is far more dangerous than a lack of physical fitness.

That is one of the findings of a massive Swedish study of 1,317,713 men in their late teens who were followed for an average of 29 years.

The Swedish researchers wanted to know whether there is a link between aerobic fitness in late adolescence and the risk of early death — and they were especially interested to see how a person’s weight fits into the equation.

What they found is that the risk of early death is much lower in normal-weight men at all fitness levels than men who are obese but aerobically fit. Even in those normal-weight men who registered at the bottom of the fitness scale, the risk was 30 percent lower than those who consider themselves “fat but fit.”

The researchers say the benefits of aerobic activity declined with increase obesity, and the heaviest among us see no significant effect at all.

Their findings were published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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