The Obesity Paradox

Crit Care Clin. 2010 Oct;26(4):583-96. doi: 10.1016/j.ccc.2010.06.004.


The term "obesity paradox" refers to the observation that, although obesity is a major risk factor in the development of cardiovascular and peripheral vascular disease, when acute cardiovascular decompensation occurs, for example, in myocardial infarction or congestive heart failure, obese patients may have a survival benefit. In addition, it has been suggested that obese patients tend to fare better after certain surgical procedures, such as coronary artery bypass surgery. Moreover, it appears that obese men with chronic hypertensive heart disease live longer than men of normal weight. Mounting evidence shows that obesity alone may confer a survival benefit independent of age, medical care, or therapy. Perhaps the definition of obesity needs to be revisited, and it is also possible that all fat is not equal.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Heart Failure / complications
  • Heart Failure / mortality*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Hypertension / mortality*
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / mortality*
  • Postoperative Complications / mortality*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / complications
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / mortality*
  • Sepsis / complications
  • Sepsis / mortality*
  • Survival Rate