Curvaceous celebrities such as Nigella Lawson, Adele and Lisa Riley have long claimed it is possible to be well-covered and fighting fit.

The general consensus is that to be healthy a person should be lean but new research has shown that the chef, singer and actress’ lifestyle mantra could actually be correct.

The researchers said that ‘healthy obesity’ does exist and that doctors should take the concept more seriously to ensure that those at greatest risk of obesity-related disease get the treatment they need.

The German researchers said that a category of ‘metabolically healthy obesity’ must be clearly defined so that surgery and other expensive treatments can be saved for those who need them the most, according to a report in The Times.

Waist size, physical fitness, fat around the organs and low insulin resistance could all be used as markers for the new category, as evidence mounts that Body Mass Index (BMI) is a crude marker of health, they say.

In a previous interview Nigella said she had always found the association between being thin and fit strange.

In a FoxNews.com interview she said: ‘My mother died of cancer when she was 48, my first husband died of cancer at 47, one of my sisters died of cancer at 32.

‘They became emaciated, tortured and died young, so the idea that I would mind about getting older when I know what the alternative is or that I would equate thinness with health is just alien to me.’

Shortly after her stint on Strictly Come Dancing, Lisa Riley said: ‘Everyone thinks I’m fat and unfit but I’m the fittest person I know.’

It is generally thought that anyone with a BMI of over 30 is at risk of a range of conditions such as heart disease to cancer.

The recent research has brought this into question, however.

Experts at the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Nuthetal wrote: ‘Results from several prospective studies show that only obese, unfit individuals, but not obese, fit individuals, are at higher mortality risk than are normal weight fit individuals.’

Doctors should pay attention particularly to insulin resistance and fat around the organs when deciding on treatment, rather than rely on BMI.

Professor Matthias Schulze, from the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Nuthetal, the lead author of the article, said that public health experts needed to work on a proper definition to know which patients were most in need of bariatric surgery and other costly treatments.

he added: ‘In view of the magnitude of the obesity epidemic, stratification of obese individuals, in terms of their risk for obesity-related metabolic diseases, becomes more important for prevention and treatment purposes.

‘Potentially, scarce resources can be more effectively used if tailored towards the metabolic profile of an obese individual; some prevention and treatment strategies can be very expensive and time consuming,’ he said.

However, he added that obese people should still  consider losing weight.

The research was published in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology

source: dailymail UK