The Definition and Prevalence of Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2017:960:1-17. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-48382-5_1.


Increase in prevalence of obesity has become a worldwide major health problem in adults, as well as among children and adolescents. Furthermore, total adiposity and truncal subcutaneous fat accumulation during adolescence are positively and independently associated with atherosclerosis at adult ages. Centrally accumulation of body fat is associated with insulin resistance, whereas distribution of body fat in a peripheral pattern is metabolically less important. Obesity is associated with a large decrease in life expectancy. The effect of extreme obesity on mortality is greater among younger than older adults. In this respect, obesity is also associated with increased risk of several cancer types. However, up to 30% of obese patients are metabolically healthy with insulin sensitivity similar to healthy normal weight individuals, lower visceral fat content, and lower intima media thickness of the carotid artery than the majority of metabolically "unhealthy" obese patients.Abdominal obesity is the most frequently observed component of metabolic syndrome. The metabolic syndrome; clustering of abdominal obesity, dyslipidemia, hyperglycemia and hypertension, is a major public health challenge. The average prevalence of metabolic syndrome is 31%, and is associated with a two-fold increase in the risk of coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and a 1.5-fold increase in the risk of all-cause mortality.

Keywords: Body mass index; Insulin resistance; Metabolic syndrome; Metabolically healthy obese; Obesity-paradox; Prevalence of obesity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity / physiology
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / etiology*
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors