Normal Weight Obesity: An Underrecognized Problem in Individuals of South Asian Descent

Clin Ther. 2019 Aug;41(8):1638-1642. doi: 10.1016/j.clinthera.2019.05.016. Epub 2019 Jul 1.


Purpose: Obesity has attained pandemic proportions across the world, and its prevalence in developing countries is also on the rise. Nevertheless, there is still a large gap in understanding the reasons behind a disproportionately high prevalence of diabetes as opposed to a lesser degree of obesity seen in individuals of South Asian origin. This research letter highlights the importance of identifying individuals with normal weight obesity, which may partially bridge this knowledge gap.

Methods: We reviewed recently published evidence on normal weight obesity.

Findings: Normal weight obesity is a common public health problem and may be prevalent in up to one-third of individuals of certain Asian ethnicities. Literature is emerging on its pathophysiology and association with metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and dyslipidemia. More recently, normal weight obesity was also identified as an independent strong predictor of cardiovascular mortality. However, evidence is particularly lacking on its appropriate management.

Implications: Normal weight obesity is an underrecognized yet widely prevalent problem in individuals of Asian descent. Further research on pathogenic mechanisms, diagnostic modalities, and therapeutic options in individuals with normal weight obesity is needed to appropriately manage this condition.

Keywords: Cardiovascular mortality; Normal weight obesity; Obesity; South Asian population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asian People
  • Body Weight
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Dyslipidemias / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Obesity / epidemiology*