Study: Obesity alone does not increase risk of death

July 12, 2018, York University
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Researchers at York University's Faculty of Health have found that patients who have metabolic healthy obesity, but no other metabolic risk factors, do not have an increased rate of mortality.

The results of this study could impact how we think about and health, says Jennifer Kuk, associate professor at the School of Kinesiology and Health Science, who led the research team at York University.

"This is in contrast with most of the literature and we think this is because most studies have defined metabolic healthy obesity as having up to one metabolic risk factor," says Kuk. "This is clearly problematic, as hypertension alone increases your and past literature would have called these patients with obesity and hypertension, 'healthy'. This is likely why most studies have reported that 'healthy' obesity is still related with higher mortality risk."

Kuk's study showed that unlike dyslipidemia, hypertension or diabetes alone, which are related with a high mortality risk, this isn't the case for obesity alone.

The study followed 54,089 men and women from five cohort studies who were categorized as having obesity alone or clustered with a metabolic factor, or elevated glucose, blood pressure or lipids alone or clustered with obesity or another metabolic factor. Researchers looked at how many people within each group died as compared to those within the normal population with no metabolic risk factors.

Researchers at York University's Faculty of Health have found that patients who have metabolic healthy obesity, but no other metabolic risk factors, do not have an increased rate of mortality. Credit: York University

Current weight management guidelines suggest that anyone with a BMI over 30 kg/m2 should lose weight. This implies that if you have obesity, even without any other risk factors, it makes you unhealthy. Researchers found that 1 out of 20 individuals with obesity had no other metabolic abnormalities.

"We're showing that individuals with metabolically healthy obesity are actually not at an elevated mortality rate. We found that a person of normal weight with no other metabolic risk factors is just as likely to die as the person with obesity and no other risk factors," says Kuk. "This means that hundreds of thousands of people in North America alone with metabolically healthy obesity will be told to lose weight when it's questionable how much benefit they'll actually receive."

The study, "Individuals with obesity but no other are not at significantly elevated all-cause risk in men and women" is published today in Clinical Obesity.

Explore further: Metabolically 'healthy' obesity still linked to higher risk of cardiovascular disease

More information: J. L. Kuk et al. Individuals with obesity but no other metabolic risk factors are not at significantly elevated all-cause mortality risk in men and women, Clinical Obesity (2018). DOI: 10.1111/cob.12263

Related Stories

Metabolically 'healthy' obesity still linked to higher risk of cardiovascular disease

May 31, 2018
Women who are obese and who have been metabolically healthy for decades are still at higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease compared to metabolically healthy women of normal weight, according to an observational ...

Heart disease may only be a matter of time for those with healthy obesity

April 24, 2018
People who are 30 pounds or more overweight may want to slim down a bit even if they don't have high blood pressure or any other heart disease risk, according to scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

Study shows so-called 'healthy obesity' is harmful to cardiovascular health

September 11, 2017
Clinicians are being warned not to ignore the increased cardiovascular health risks of those who are classed as either 'healthy obese' or deemed to be 'normal weight' but have metabolic abnormalities such as diabetes.

Study of 3.5 million people shows 'healthy' obese people are still at higher risk of cardiovascular disease events

May 17, 2017
New research presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Porto, Portugal (17-20) May shows that so called 'metabolically healthy' obese people are still at higher risk of cardiovascular disease events such ...

Metabolically healthy women have same CVD risk regardless of BMI

September 2, 2013
Metabolically healthy women have the same cardiovascular disease risk regardless of their BMI, according to research presented at the ESC Congress today by Dr Søren Skøtt Andersen and Dr Michelle Schmiegelow from Denmark. ...

Study shows benefits of exercise can outweigh health effects of severe obesity

February 12, 2018
Can you be fit and healthy even if you're overweight? That's the question researchers at York University's Faculty of Health set out to answer in a new study that shows physical activity may be equally and perhaps even more ...

Recommended for you

Large restaurant portions a global problem, study finds

December 12, 2018
A new multi-country study finds that large, high-calorie portion sizes in fast food and full service restaurants is not a problem unique to the United States. An international team of researchers found that 94 percent of ...

BMI is a good measure of health after all, new study finds

December 11, 2018
A new study from the University of Bristol supports body mass index (BMI) as a useful tool for assessing obesity and health.

A correlation between obesity and income has only developed in the past 30 years

December 11, 2018
It is well known that poorer Americans are more likely to be obese or suffer from diabetes; there is a strong negative correlation between household income and both obesity and diabetes. This negative correlation, however, ...

Simple tips to curb overindulgence can help stop pounds piling on at Christmas

December 10, 2018
A study by the University of Birmingham and Loughborough University has shown that regular weighing at home and simple tips to curb excess eating and drinking can prevent people from piling on the pounds at Christmas.

Obesity intervention needed before pregnancy

December 6, 2018
New research from the University of Adelaide's Robinson Research Institute supports the need for dietary and lifestyle interventions before overweight and obese women become pregnant.

Gene that lets you eat as much as you want holds promise against obesity

December 4, 2018
It sounds too good to be true, but a novel approach that might allow you to eat as much food as you want without gaining weight could be a reality in the near future.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.