Low inflammation could explain 'healthy' obesity

Low levels of inflammation might explain why some people who are obese can be metabolically healthy, a new study from the University College Cork suggests.

While obesity is generally linked to higher risk of diabetes and heart disease, some people do not develop the negative health profiles associated with the condition, like high blood pressure and unfavorable cholesterol. This type of phenomenon is called "healthy obesity," and as many as 35 percent of people who are obese can be considered metabolically healthy, a press release on the research stated.

Metabolic health and inflammation

The researchers found that metabolically healthy people who were both obese or non-obese had lower levels of inflammatory markers.

"Regardless of their body mass index, people with favorable inflammatory profiles also tended to have healthy metabolic profiles," said lead study author Catherine Phillips, BSc, Ph.D.

The study was based on data from 2,040 people between the ages of 50 and 69 who completed lifestyle questionnaires, physical and clinical assessments and blood testing to determine metabolic profiles.

People who were metabolically healthy showed reduced counts of white blood cells and acute-phase response proteins, which multiply when there is inflammation in the body, the researchers noted.

Better testing methods needed

The team concluded that, from a public health standpoint, better methods are needed to identify which obese people have the highest risk of diabetes and heart disease.

"Inflammatory markers offer a potential strategy for pinpointing people who could benefit most from medical interventions," Philips said.

Results of the study are published in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Source: Newswise

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