CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- You can look great in a swimsuit and still be a heart attack waiting to happen. And you can also be overweight and otherwise healthy.
A new study suggests that a surprising number of overweight people -- about half -- have normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, while an equally startling number of trim people suffer from some of the ills associated with obesity.
The first national estimate of its kind bolsters the argument that you can be hefty but still healthy, or at least healthier than has been believed.
The results also show that stereotypes about body size can be misleading and that even "less voluptuous" people can have risk factors commonly associated with obesity, said study author MaryFran Sowers, a University of Michigan obesity researcher.
"We're really talking about taking a look with a very different lens" at weight and health risks, Sowers said.
Of course people of any size with a family history of heart disease will want to be cautious about weight gain and want to be particularly careful with their diet. It is recommended that they also keep their cholesterol well below the 200 that used to be considered normal. (Mine was only slightly higher than that in the years leading up to my diagnosis.) We should all be aware of our risk factors since heart disease is the number 1 killer of both men and women.