Can an individual be obese and still be healthy? If we go by a recent study, the answer is no.

The study conducted at the University of Birmingham's Institute of Applied Health Research has revealed the people who are 'metabolically healthy obese' — those who are obese but do not suffer metabolic abnormalities such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol — have higher chances of suffering from heart failure, cerebrovascular disease and coronary heart disease as compared to those who are normal weight without metabolic abnormalities. The findings were published Monday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

During a period of more than five years, researchers compared the health levels of an obese person, who was otherwise healthy, with that of a person with normal-weight. These participants' health levels were defined by their Body Mass Index (BMI).

Those having a BMI of 18.5 or under were classified as underweight, those between 25 and 30 were labeled as overweight and those who had BMIs of 30 and above were classed as obese. A person whose BMI was between 18.5 and 25 was classed as normal-weight.

The obese individuals have 49 percent higher chances of developing a heart disease and they were found to be at 96 percent higher risk of having a heart failure. The experts have warned that 'metabolically healthy’ obesity is not a harmless condition and the concepts that suggest obesity can be healthy are misleading.

“We conclude that obese patients, irrespective of their metabolic status, should be encouraged to lose weight and that early detection and management of normal weight individuals with metabolic abnormalities will be beneficial in the prevention of CVD events,” said senior author and public health physician, Dr Krish Nirantharakumar, in a press statement published by the varsity

“In our study, we had unprecedented statistical power to examine body size phenotypes by the number of metabolic abnormalities, potentially reflecting several definitions of the ‘metabolically healthy’ phenotype in relation to a range of CVD events,” lead author and epidemiologist Dr Rishi Caleyachetty said. 

More than one-third of the U.S. adults have obesity, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data published in November 2015. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. The nation spends a lot on this health condition and the estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008. Obese people spent $1,429 higher in medicines than those of normal weight

Obesity also affects some groups more than others. For instance, men falling in the higher incomes groups and belonging to non-Hispanic black and Mexican-American, are more likely to have obesity. Higher income women have lesser chances of having obesity than low-income women.

According to the CDC, "There is no significant relationship between obesity and education among men. Among women, however, there is a trend — those with college degrees are less likely to have obesity compared with less educated women."