People who are overweight or obese, despite appearing medically healthy, are still at increased risk of heart disease, experts warn.
The notion that people can be ‘fat but fit’ is being challenged by research published in the European Heart Journal.
According to the researchers from Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge, who studied health data relating to more than half a million people in 10 European countries, weight is still a heart disease risk factor even if someone has normal blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
The study found that people who appeared healthy, with healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar readings, were still 28% more likely to develop heart disease than individuals with health bodyweights.
Even more at risk were people who were overweight or obese and had high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
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”.
So the advice if you want to maintain a healthy heart is to watch your weight, even if you think you are fit.