Metabolically healthy and unhealthy obese--the 2013 Stock Conference report

Obes Rev. 2014 Sep;15(9):697-708. doi: 10.1111/obr.12199. Epub 2014 Jul 25.


Obesity is closely associated with cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes, but some obese individuals, despite having excessive body fat, exhibit metabolic health that is comparable with that of lean individuals. The 'healthy obese' phenotype was described in the 1980s, but major advancements in its characterization were only made in the past five years. During this time, several new mechanisms that may be involved in health preservation in obesity were proposed through the use of transgenic animal models, use of sophisticated imaging techniques and in vivo measurements of insulin sensitivity. However, the main obstacle in advancing our understanding of the metabolically healthy obese phenotype and its related long-term health risks is the lack of a standardized definition. Here, we summarize the proceedings of the 13th Stock Conference of the International Association of the Study of Obesity. We describe the current research and highlight the unanswered questions and gaps in the field. Better understanding of metabolic health in obesity will assist in therapeutic decision-making and help identify therapeutic targets to improve metabolic health in obesity.

Keywords: Insulin sensitive; metabolic syndrome; metabolically healthy; obesity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Congresses as Topic
  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical
  • Gene-Environment Interaction
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / blood
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / blood
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / epidemiology
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / physiopathology*
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Phenotype*
  • Reference Standards
  • Risk Factors


  • Blood Glucose