Obesity is serious, and everyone should work hard to avoid becoming obese. But, according to Medical News Today, there is an upside to obesity, and that is that it might improve stroke survival. Who knew?!
The Problem with Obesity
Obesity is considered a serious health problem, as it can raise your risk of developing a range of other medical issues, such as cancer, heart disease, sleep disorders, and diabetes. Even just being overweight, not obese, can also have a negative impact on your health, raising your risk of mental health problems like anxiety and depression, as well as increasing your risk of all-cause mortality. No wonder so many people are trying to lose weight and get in shape!
The Protective Effects of Obesity
Researchers have found that having too much body fat might not be a totally bad thing, though. In fact, they claim that it can provide protection in certain cases. This might seem confusing, but the basic idea is that if a person has a high BMI, they might actually be less likely to die as a result of a cardiovascular condition, compared to individuals who have maintained a normal, healthy weight. It should come as no surprise that this is referred to as the “obesity paradox.”
Stroke Survival and Obesity
In the past, when researchers set out to discover if the obesity paradox also applies specifically to stroke, and whether stroke survival is affected by whether or not a person is obese, they got mixed results from their studies. To gain greater insight into this issue today, researchers took a look at more than 1,000 individuals who’d had an ischemic stroke. On average, the participants in the study were 71 years old, with an average BMI of 27.5 (note that a BMI over 29.9 is considered obese).
The study participants were divided into several categories, including severely obese, obese, overweight, normal, and underweight, all based on their BMI. Then, the experts simply monitored their survival and their recovery for three months following a stroke.
The results? Well, those people who were considered severely obese had a 62% lower risk of dying from stroke when compared to those who had a normal BMI. Also, obese individuals had a 46% lower risk of death, while overweight participants had a 15% lower risk of death. In other words, the severely obese group had the lowest risk of dying and the greater stroke survival rate. And, on top of all of that interesting information, the individuals who were deemed underweight had a 67% greater risk of dying after a stroke compared to those in the normal BMI group.
More Research Is Needed
Sure, these results are really fascinating, and they show that those who are obese or overweight might have a better stroke survival rate because their bodies hold a nutritional reserve that might help with surviving during illness. But more research will be needed to really determine if fat has any truly protective effects when it comes to stroke.