Experts warn that people who are obese or overweight have an increased risk of heart disease, even if they seem to be medically healthy.
This research, which was published in the European Heart Journal, backs up the idea that it is impossible to be ‘fat but fit’.
Over half a million people, across 10 European nations, were studied as part of the research. The researchers discovered that levels of blood sugar and cholesterol were no guarantee of heart health among obese people, nor was normal blood pressure.
At the end of the 12-year study period, over 7,500 people had developed heart disease, with weight appearing to be a risk factor.
The study found that overweight or obese people with healthy blood pressure and good levels of cholesterol and blood sugar were 28 per cent more likely to develop heart disease than those with similar readings and a healthy bodyweight.
Those involved in the study say this is a reminder of the dangers of having too much body fat.
Dr Ioanna Tzoulaki, from Imperial’s School of Public Health, said: “I think there is no longer this concept of healthy obese.
“If anything, our study shows that people with excess weight who might be classed as ‘healthy’ haven’t yet developed an unhealthy metabolic profile.
“That comes later in the timeline, then they have an event, such as a heart attack.”
The researchers suggest that the excess weight may not be the cause of an increase heart disease risk, but it was contributing to other factors involved in heart health.
Prof Metin Avkiran, from the British Heart Foundation, which part-funded the research, said: “The take-home message here is that maintaining a healthy body weight is a key step towards maintaining a healthy heart.”