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Not All Overweight People Are Unhealthy, Study Says

New Studies Say You Can Be "Healthy Obese"

New studies show that weight shouldn't be the only factor when determining whether or not someone is unhealthy. In fact, the studies show, certain obese people may actually be healthy.

The first study surveyed 8,000 Americans and found that not all those who qualified as obese — over 30 on the BMI scale — had health problems. It found that 20 percent of obese participants were what one of the study researchers described as "pretty healthy despite being large."

Your BMI, or body mass index, is determined by calculating your weight relative to your height. But many experts agree that a BMI number doesn't always correlate to how healthy you are.

Read on for more about the new findings after the break.

How can you be overweight but still healthy? Genetics as well as lifestyle habits, including diet and fitness level, both play a part in whether or not an overweight person develops chronic complications due to their weight. So, researchers say, we should be looking at more than just a person's weight when deciding whether or not they are unhealthy.

A better way to look at weight is to take into account a person's overall body condition, say researchers from the second study. This study looked at overweight people and categorized them based on a ranking system — from stage zero, which means that although they are overweight they have no related complications, to stage four, which means the person has obesity-related chronic disease and other disabilities. This system, the study found, was better at predicting a person's death from obesity-related complications than their BMI score.

These findings may not be all that surprising, but they do emphasize just how important exercise is, and not just for dropping pounds. A healthy lifestyle, no matter what your weight, is what helps prevent life-threatening conditions and chronic disease.

Source: Thinkstock
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