C Bala, A-E Craciun, N Hancu
Acta endocrinologica: the international journal of the Romanian Society of Endocrinology 2016, 12 (2): 197-205
Obesity is a well-recognized risk factor for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and several types of cancer. However, a proportion of the obese individuals display a significantly lower risk for metabolic complications than expected for their degree of body mass index, and this subtype of obesity was described as "metabolically healthy obesity" (MHO). No universally accepted criteria for the diagnosis of MHO exists and the prevalence of this subtype of obesity varies largely according to criteria used. Broadly, MHO is characterized by a lower amount of visceral fat, a more favorable inflammatory profile, and less insulin resistance as compared to the metabolically unhealthy obesity. Currently, controversies exist regarding the risk of cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality associated with MHO as compared to metabolically-healthy non-obese individuals. Further research is needed in order to identify the MHO phenotype and if MHO is truly healthy for a long period of time or if it is a transient state from normal metabolic/normal weight to abnormal metabolic/obese state. This review will discuss the MHO definition criteria; the differences between MHO and metabolically unhealthy obesity; the possible underlying mechanisms and clinical implications of MHO.

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