Can You be Obese & Healthy? - Metabolically Healthy Obesity


Have you heard someone talk about “metabolically healthy obesity”? When people refer to ‘metabolically healthy obesity” (MHO), this specifically applies to individuals who are obese, but remain free from high cholesterol and other metabolic health problems typically associated with excess weight. As many as 1 in 3 individuals fall into this category. Does this mean these people do not need to worry about their excess weight? No. The term may be misleading because findings suggest that even someone who appears to have ‘metabolically health obesity,’ can be at greater risk for other health conditions like joint pain and depression. Some research even shows a greater risk for death from heart disease.  Additionally, a new study highlights that MHO may be associated with higher risk for chronic kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease may not be detected in its early stages, and can lead to complete kidney failure. According to the National Kidney Foundation, approximately 26 million Americans have chronic kidney disease.

The new research about kidney disease in MHO individuals was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The study authors found that the cases of kidney disease went from 3.5 per 1000 in those who were overweight, to almost double that at 6.7 per 1000 for those who were obese.  Both these rates were much higher than the rates of kidney disease for those of normal weight. The scientists were quoted as saying that that being overweight or obese was “associated with increased chronic kidney disease incidence in metabolically healthy young and middle-aged participants. These findings indicate that MHO is not a harmless condition and that the obese phenotype, regardless of metabolic abnormalities, can adversely affect renal function.”

This research highlights the importance of knowing exactly what your risk factors are if you are obese. These facts can help you make a more informed decision about seeking treatment, and which treatment option you would do best with.

If you would like to learn about your weight loss options, call CHI Memorial Metabolic and Bariatric Care at (423) 899-1000.