Obesity Doesn’t Always Increase Heart Disease Risk

Obesity does not impact the risk of cardiovascular disease for individuals without other risk factors, a Dutch study suggests.

Research has long shown that carrying excess weight can increase your risk of various health conditions, including heart disease. However, a new study shows that the risk of cardiovascular disease is not any higher for obese individuals who do not have other metabolic risk factors, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure.

Unfortunately, only a small percentage of people who suffer from obesity fall into this category.

A team of researchers gathered data on 1,325 obese people from more than 8,000 participants in a large Dutch study. Of the obese study subjects, only 90 were considered metabolically healthy, or had no history of stroke, heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure.

After seven years of follow up, only one person developed heart disease. Researchers say that as a percentage (1.1 percent) this figure was not much higher than heart disease in people who are metabolically healthy but overweight (1.3 percent) or normal weight (0.6 percent).

“Metabolically healthy obese persons do not have the elevated cardiovascular risk of obesity, but represent only a small subset of the total obese population,” Dr. Andre van Beek, lead researcher from the University Medical Center in Groningen, told HealthDay.

In his presentation at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in San Diego, Dr. Van Beek advised that individuals who struggle with weight issues check their metabolic risk profile to determine whether they are at a higher risk for heart disease.

“If this is normal, be reassured that there is no excess cardiovascular risk independent of weight class,” he said.

However, some experts warn that more research is needed in order to know for sure whether certain obese people are protected from heart disease.