Is ‘Healthy Obesity’ Possible?
Most of us know that obesity increases the risk for health problems—including some cancers, heart disease and stroke, and metabolic conditions like diabetes. However, for the past 15 years or so, the concept of healthy obesity has been debated by scientists and health care professionals. The term “healthy obesity” can be used to describe clinical obesity—BMI over 30.0—that is not associated with increased metabolic health risks.
A number of studies have examined the link between obesity and heart and metabolic diseases. Some of these studies showed that not all people who are obese are at increased risk—some (up to 30 percent) have a healthy, relatively normal cardiovascular and metabolic profile.
One marker of this healthy profile is a high sensitivity to the hormone insulin. The study involved 50 obese participants enrolled in a gastric bypass surgery clinical trial. Tests showed that 21 were insulin sensitive—indicating a healthy metabolic profile—and 29 were classified as insulin resistant—indicating an increased risk for heart disease and diabetes.
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