Obesity alone does not increase mortality risk, finds study


  • Mary Corcoran
  • Univadis Medical News
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Individuals who have metabolic healthy obesity (MHO) but no other metabolic risk factors, do not have an increased rate of mortality compared to lean healthy individuals, suggests new research published in Clinical Obesity

A number of previous studies have examined mortality risk for MHO, defined as zero or one metabolic risk factors, but not as zero risk factors. As part of this latest study, researchers set out to determine the independent mortality risk associated with obesity or elevated glucose, blood pressure or lipids in isolation or clustered together. The study followed 54,089 men and women from five cohort studies. Around 6 per cent of individuals presented with obesity but no other metabolic abnormalities.

The researchers found that in the absence of metabolic risk factors, general obesity and abdominal obesity were not associated with mortality risk compared to lean individuals. Diabetes, hypertension and dyslipidaemia in isolation were significantly associated with mortality risk. When metabolically healthy was defined as zero or one metabolic risk factor as in previous research, metabolically healthy obesity was associated with increased mortality risk. 

The authors say the findings could change how we think about obesity and health.

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