Can Obesity Ever Be Healthy?

Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH


May 18, 2018

Hello. I'm Dr Arefa Cassoobhoy, a practicing internist, Medscape advisor, and senior medical director for WebMD. Welcome to Morning Report, our 1-minute news story for primary care.

The controversial concept of "metabolically healthy obesity" has been around for a while. It's the idea that people can carry extra weight without having high blood pressure, glucose intolerance, or high cholesterol—the signs of metabolic syndrome.

A new study of more than 6800 individuals questions that assumption. It found that metabolically healthy obesity at baseline did not predict a person's future risk for cardiovascular morbidity or mortality. Almost half of the metabolically healthy obese patients eventually developed metabolic syndrome, raising their cardiovascular risk. And the longer a person was metabolically unhealthy, the higher the risk.

What can we take from this? Early identification of this group is an opportunity for primary prevention. The research is a reminder that we can't assume that our metabolically healthy obese patients will remain that way. Obesity is a risk factor for developing metabolic syndrome.

Follow Dr Cassoobhoy on Twitter at @ArefaMD


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