A Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology report has shed new light on 'metabolically healthy obesity' — those people who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 30 but are not at increased risk of obesity-related diseases. It's like you've been telling us all along: BMI has always been flawed when it comes to assessing unhealthy fat levels. Now science wants to make it official.
Obese picture from Shutterstock
Researchers from the German Institute of Human Nutrition and the University of Tübingen analysed a range of scientific data relating to fat distribution patterns, liver fat content, waist circumference, insulin resistance and fitness levels in individuals with a BMI of more than 30, which is classed as obese.
They found that the metabolic profile of an obese individual varies considerably when all these factors are considered together. They also found that excess fat does not automatically lead to health complications such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes — especially if the individual is physically active, has a high insulin resistance and isn't huge in the middle.
"[Our findings] underscore the need to consider other metabolic and anthropometric parameters in addition to BMI," the report explains.
This is something that our readers are constantly pointing out in our health articles relating to weight. However, while the anomaly has recently been recognised by medical practitioners, there haven't been many large-scale scientific studies to back the facts up.
“At the moment, the public health relevance of metabolically healthy obesity is unclear, because of uncertainties about its definition and clinical applications," explains lead author Professor Matthias Schulze.
"Developing standard criteria to define metabolically healthy obesity, and gaining a deeper understanding of the biological mechanisms behind it, would potentially remove these barriers, and could lead to improved targeting of treatment."