An overweight man and woman sit on a bench. (credit: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images)

(CBS News) – Usually being obese means a higher chance of developing health problems. But, a new study shows that it is possible to be fat and fit – and also to be at no greater risk for some chronic diseases.

Not only were people who were deemed “metabolically healthy” – meaning they had no insulin resistance, diabetes, high cholesterol or blood pressure – obese individuals have a lower risk of death than other unfit obese individuals, they had no greater risk than normal weight fit people.

“It is well known that obesity is linked to a large number of chronic disease such as cardiovascular problems and cancer. However, there appears to be a sub-set of obese people who seem to be protected from obesity-related metabolic complications,” first author Dr Francisco Ortega, a research associate affiliated to the Department of Physical Activity and Sport, University of Granada in Spain and at the Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, said in a press release. “They may have greater cardio-respiratory fitness than other obese individuals, but, until now, it was not known the extent to which these metabolically healthy but obese people are at lower risk of diseases or premature death.”

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