Normal weight obesity: relationship with lipids, glycaemic status, liver enzymes and inflammation

Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2010 Nov;20(9):669-75. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2009.06.001. Epub 2009 Sep 12.


Background and aims: Normal weight obesity (NWO) is defined as an excessive body fat associated with a normal body mass index (BMI) and has been associated with early inflammation, but its relationship with cardiovascular risk factors await investigation.

Methods and results: Cross-sectional study including 3213 women and 2912 men aged 35-75 years to assess the clinical characteristics of NWO in Lausanne, Switzerland. Body fat was assessed by bioimpedance. NWO was defined as a BMI<25 kg/m(2) and a % body fat ≥66(th) gender-specific percentiles. The prevalence of NWO was 5.4% in women and less than 3% in men, so the analysis was restricted to women. NWO women had a higher % of body fat than overweight women. After adjusting for age, smoking, educational level, physical activity and alcohol consumption, NWO women had higher blood pressure and lipid levels and a higher prevalence of dyslipidaemia (odds-ratio=1.90 [1.34-2.68]) and fasting hyperglycaemia (odds-ratio=1.63 [1.10-2.42]) than lean women, whereas no differences were found between NWO and overweight women. Conversely, no differences were found between NWO and lean women regarding levels of CRP, adiponectin and liver markers (alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase and gamma glutamyl transferase). Using other definitions of NWO led to similar conclusions, albeit some differences were no longer significant.

Conclusion: NWO is almost nonexistent in men. Women with NWO present with higher cardiovascular risk factors than lean women, while no differences were found for liver or inflammatory markers. Specific screening of NWO might be necessary in order to implement cardiovascular prevention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiponectin / blood
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases / blood
  • Blood Glucose / analysis*
  • Body Fat Distribution
  • Body Weight*
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation*
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Liver / enzymology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase / blood


  • Adiponectin
  • Blood Glucose
  • Lipids
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases
  • Alanine Transaminase