Metabolically healthy obesity--does it exist?

Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2014 Oct;16(10):441. doi: 10.1007/s11883-014-0441-1.


The prevalence of obesity has been increasing worldwide over the past 30 years and is a major public health concern. Obesity is known to be associated with metabolic disturbances including insulin resistance and inflammation; however, there is a subset of obese subjects who have normal metabolic profiles, and they have been identified as the metabolically healthy obese (MHO). Several studies have described MHO as obese individuals who have high levels of insulin sensitivity and the absence of diabetes, dyslipidemia, or hypertension. The prevalence of MHO varies from 20 to 30% among obese individuals. This review will discuss the MHO phenotype; the differences between MHO and metabolically unhealthy obese (MUO) individuals; and the possible underlying mechanisms including adipocyte differentiation, immune regulation, and cellular energy metabolism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Prevalence