A small percentage of the obese population do not have metabolic risk factors for diabetes and heart disease such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, says a study.
"Some obese persons have a normal cardiovascular risk profile, and they have no increased risk for heart and blood vessel disease. However, periodic evaluation of their risk profile remains essential," said study co-author André van Beek, MD, PhD, of University Medical Center Groningen, in the Netherlands.
The Dutch study found that in a large population of obese individuals, 6.8 percent were "metabolically healthy", meaning they had no history of heart disease or stroke, no diabetes or high blood pressure, and no dyslipidemia (irregularities in blood fats) or any use of cholesterol-lowering medications.
To conduct the research, the authors identified 1,325 obese individuals from 8,356 subjects, who ranged in age from 28 to 75 years. Only 90 obese subjects were metabolically healthy.
Over the next seven-and-half years, cardiovascular disease developed in just one of these 90 individuals. This percentage (1.1 percent) was not significantly higher than that in metabolically healthy subjects who were overweight (1.3 percent) or of normal weight (0.6 percent), the researchers reported.
"These results indicate that metabolically healthy obese individuals appear to have protection against cardiovascular disease. But, they are a small subset of the total obese population. And they may still suffer from other obesity-associated diseases like muscle and joint complaints," van Beek said.