Metabolically Unhealthy Obesity Increases Cardiovascular Disease Risk

Greek study finds increase in weight, diet changes main culprits

Adults who transition from metabolically healthy obesity to metabolically unhealthy obesity are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared with metabolically healthy individuals with normal weight, according to findings published in Metabolism.

Demosthenes Panagiotakos, MD, and colleagues studied almost 1,900 adults via the ATTICA study, a prospective observational study begun in 2001. After recording body-mass index (BMI) and metabolic status of all patients at baseline, they assess diet quality based on adherence to a Mediterranean diet and established four basic categories:

  • Metabolically healthy normal weight
  • Metabolically healthy obesity
  • Metabolically unhealthy normal weight
  • Metabolically unhealthy obesity

After ten years, participants with metabolically healthy obesity had a CVD event rate 2.66 times higher than participants with metabolically healthy normal weight. However, the CVD event rate was 1.25 times to 1.56 times lower for participants with metabolically healthy obesity vs. those with metabolically unhealthy obesity.

“Our findings suggest that primary prevention strategies and constant vigilance may be necessary in [metabolically healthy obesity] persons so as to deter transitions to [metabolic syndrome] and subsequent increased CVD risk,” the researchers wrote.

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