In a recent study, researchers from University of Birmingham find that obese people with healthy metabolic functions still have higher risk of heart disease.
The results are presented at the 2017 conference of European Congress on Obesity.
Metabolically healthy obesity is a condition when BMI is more than 30 kg/m2 but the metabolic functions are normal.
This means that the obese people don’t have diseases commonly related to obesity, such as type 2 diabetes, poor blood sugar, and abnormal blood fats.
In the current study, researchers examined whether healthy obesity was linked to higher risk of heart disease risk.
They analyzed primary care electronic health records from 1995 to 2015 in The Health Improvement Network (THIN).
This is a large UK database of general practice records, including a cohort of 3.5 million individuals aged 18 years or older and initially free from heart disease.
The team divided the records based on BMI and metabolic syndromes to check if healthy obesity alone was associated with higher heart disease risk.
To be classified as metabolically healthy obesity, a person had to have none of these metabolic abnormalities.
The findings showed that healthy obese people had about 50% of increased risk of coronary heart disease than healthy people with normal body weight.
They also had 7% of higher risk of cardiovascular disease, a doubled risk of heart failure and 11% of increased risk of peripheral vascular disease compared to healthy non-obese people.
Moreover, when healthy obese people had metabolic syndromes, their heart disease risk increased faster than non-obese people who had metabolic syndromes.
The researchers suggest that metabolically healthy obese people are at higher risk of coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and heart failure than normal weight metabolically healthy people.
Thus, weight loss is very important for maintaining body health, regardless of the presence or absence of metabolic syndromes.
They also suggest: “At the population-level, so-called metabolically healthy obesity is not a harmless condition and perhaps it is better not to use this term to describe an obese person, regardless of how many metabolic complications they have.”