Incidence of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and dyslipidemia in metabolically healthy obese and non-obese

Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2018 Oct;28(10):1036-1044. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2018.06.011. Epub 2018 Jun 20.


Background and aims: Metabolically healthy obese (MHO) individuals are devoid of many metabolic abnormalities, but how this condition is maintained over time remains debated. We assessed the prevalence of MHO over time and the incidence of hypertension (HTN), dyslipidemia, and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in MHO as compared with metabolically healthy non obese (MHNO).

Methods and results: Prospective, population-based study including 3038 participants (49.9 ± 9.9 years; 1753 women) free from metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease at baseline and examined after a follow-up of 5.6 years and 10.9 years on average. At each follow-up, prevalence of MHO, MHNO, metabolically unhealthy not obese (MUNO), and metabolically unhealthy obese (MUO), as well as of HTN, dyslipidemia, and T2DM, was calculated and stratified by sex, age group, and education. At baseline, 179 (5.7%) MHO participants were identified, of which 62 (34.6%) and 79 (44.1%) remained MHO at 5.6 and 10.9 years follow-up, respectively. At 5.6 years follow-up, MHO participants were more likely to develop low HDL or be on hypolipidemic medication [multivariable-adjusted OR (95% CI): 1.56 (1.02-2.38)], to have dyslipidemia [1.94 (1.33-2.82)], and high triglycerides [2.07 (1.36-3.14)] than MHNO. At 10.9 years follow-up, MHO participants were significantly more likely to develop T2DM [3.44 (1.84-6.43)], dyslipidemia [1.64 (1.14-2.38)], and low HDL or be prescribed hypolipidemic medication [1.57 (1.08-2.27)] than MHNO. Conversely, no differences were found regarding hypertension.

Conclusion: A considerable fraction of MHO individuals lose their status over time, and in metabolically healthy adults, obesity confers a higher risk of developing cardiovascular risk factors.

Keywords: Dyslipidemia; Epidemiology; Hypertension; Metabolic syndrome; Metabolically healthy obese; Obesity; Prospective; Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Dyslipidemias / diagnosis
  • Dyslipidemias / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / diagnosis
  • Hypertension / epidemiology*
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity, Metabolically Benign / diagnosis
  • Obesity, Metabolically Benign / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Switzerland / epidemiology
  • Time Factors