People with ‘healthy obesity’ are still at increased risk of disease
A new study published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes [EASD]) reveals that having a normal metabolic profile does not mean that a person with obesity is actually healthy (referred to as metabolically healthy obesity), since they face an increased risk of diabetes, heart diseases, strokes, and respiratory diseases.
Obesity typically leads to metabolic problems, characterised by elevated blood sugar, increased blood pressure, insulin resistance, and other adverse metabolic changes.
These effects are not universal, and some people with obesity have normal blood pressure, favourable blood fats, little or no systemic inflammation, and a healthy level of insulin. This is sometimes referred to as having 'metabolically healthy obesity' (MHO), and its occurrence is estimated to be 3% to 22% in the whole general population.
The authors found that MHO individuals were generally younger, watched less television, exercised more, had higher education levels, lower deprivation index, higher red and processed meat intake, and were less likely to be male and non-white than participants who were metabolically healthy obese (MUO).
Compared to metabolically healthy non-obese (MHN) participants, participants with MHO were 4.3 times more likely to have diabetes, 18% more likely to suffer heart attack or stroke, had a 76% higher risk of heart failure, were 28% more likely to suffer respiratory disease and 19% more likely to suffer COPD.
Compared to metabolically unhealthy people without obesity (MUN), those classed as MHO were 28% more likely to have heart failure.