The International Journal of Romanian Society of Endocrinology / Registered in 1938

in ISI Thomson Master Journal List

April - June 2016, Volume 12, Issue 2

Bala C, Craciun AE, Hancu N

Updating the Concept of Metabolically Healthy Obesity

Acta Endo (Buc) 2016, 12 (2): 197-205
doi: 10.4183/aeb.2016.197

Obesity is a well-recognized risk factor for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and several types of cancer. However, a proportion of the obese individuals display a significantly lower risk for metabolic complications than expected for their degree of body mass index, and this subtype of obesity was described as “metabolically healthy obesity” (MHO). No universally accepted criteria for the diagnosis of MHO exists and the prevalence of this subtype of obesity varies largely according to criteria used. Broadly, MHO is characterized by a lower amount of visceral fat, a more favorable inflammatory profile, and less insulin resistance as compared to the metabolically unhealthy obesity. Currently, controversies exist regarding the risk of cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality associated with MHO as compared to metabolically-healthy non-obese individuals. Further research is needed in order to identify the MHO phenotype and if MHO is truly healthy for a long period of time or if it is a transient state from normal metabolic/normal weight to abnormal metabolic/obese state. This review will discuss the MHO definition criteria; the differences between MHO and metabolically unhealthy obesity; the possible underlying mechanisms and clinical implications of MHO.

Keywords: metabolically healthy obesity, obesity, insulin resistance, inflammation, visceral adipose tissue

Correspondence: Anca-Elena Craciun MD, “Iuliu Ha?ieganu” University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Dept. of Diabetes, Nutrition and Metabolic Diseases, 2 Clinicilor Street, Cluj-Napoca, Cluj, 400006, Romania, E-mail: