Profile of individuals who are metabolically healthy obese using different definition criteria. A population-based analysis in the Spanish population

María Teresa Martínez-Larrad, Arturo Corbatón Anchuelo, Náyade Del Prado, José María Ibarra Rueda, Rafael Gabriel, Manuel Serrano-Ríos
PloS One 2014, 9 (9): e106641

BACKGROUND: Obesity is associated with numerous metabolic complications such as diabetes mellitus type 2, dyslipidemia, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and several forms of cancer. Our goal was to compare different criteria to define the metabolically healthy obese (MHO) with metabolically unhealthy obese (MUHO) subjects. We applied Wildman (W), Wildman modified (WM) with insulin resistance (IR) with cut-off point ≥ 3.8 and levels of C- Reactive Protein (CRP) ≥ 3 mg/l; and Consensus Societies (CS) criteria. In these subjects cardiovascular-risk (CV-risk) was estimated by Framingham score and SCORE for MHO and MUHO.

METHODS: A cross-sectional study was conducted in Spanish Caucasian adults. A total of 3,844 subjects completed the study, 45% males, aged 35-74 years. Anthropometric/biochemical variables were measured. Obesity was defined as BMI: ≥ 30 Kg/m(2).

RESULTS: The overall prevalence of obesity in our population was 27.5%, (23.7%/males and 30.2%/females). MHO prevalence according to W, WM, and CS definition criteria were: 9.65%, 16.29%, 39.94% respectively in obese participants. MHO has lower waist circumference (WC) measurements than MUHO. The estimated CV-risks by Framingham and SCORE Project charts were lower in MHO than MUHO subjects. WC showed high specificity and sensitivity in detecting high estimated CV risk by Framingham. However, WHR showed high specificity and sensitivity in detecting CV risk according to SCORE Project. MHO subjects as defined by any of the three criteria had higher adiponectin levels after adjustment by sex, age, WC, HOMA IR and Framingham or SCORE risks. This relationship was not found for CRP circulating levels neither leptin levels.

CONCLUSIONS: MHO prevalence is highly dependent on the definition criteria used to define those individuals. Results showed that MHO subjects had less WC, and a lower estimated CV-risk than MUHO subjects. Additionally, the high adiponectin circulating levels in MHO may suggest a protective role against developing an unhealthy metabolic state.

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