“Particularly worth noting is that people with metabolically healthy obesity had a higher risk of heart failure and respiratory disease than metabolically unhealthy participants without obesity,” said the researchers, from the Institute of Health and Wellbeing at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. “People with metabolically healthy obesity were at a substantially higher risk of diabetes, heart attack and stroke, heart failure, respiratory diseases and all-cause mortality compared with people who were not obese and with a healthy metabolic profile,” they wrote. As many as 300 million people globally, including 40% of U.S. adults, meet the criteria for obesity, or being severely overweight, based on World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates.
They were also 28% more likely to develop a respiratory disease and 19% more likely to suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, or COPD. In addition, they had an 18% higher risk for heart attack or stroke and a 76% higher risk for heart failure, according to the researchers.
Based on these findings, the researchers called for the term metabolically healthy obesity to be avoided in medicine, “as it is misleading.”
Compared to healthy people without obesity, people with obesity but healthy blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure, a condition called metabolically healthy obesity, were 4.3 times more likely to have Type 2 diabetes, the data showed.
This is called metabolically healthy obesity, and it is estimated to affect up to one-fifth of the world population, they said. For this study, the researchers analyzed data on more than 380,000 adults in England, Scotland and Wales, who were overweight or obese, over a period of roughly 11 years. However, these effects are not universal, and some people with obesity have normal levels of these and other important measures.
Obesity typically causes elevated blood sugar and insulin resistance as well as increased blood pressure and other metabolic changes, they said. The ongoing “epidemics” of Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and many other serious health problems are linked with obesity, the University of Glasgow researchers said.
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