The Endocrine Society has been a centerpiece of recent Texas biotech news, having recently announced that two Texas researchers would receive 2014 laureate awards. Now, the Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism is set to publish new research revealing that metabolically healthy obesity is still a health concern that carries a higher risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The research, which came as a result of the wide-ranging, population-based San Antonio Heart Study conducted in collaboration with the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, revealed conflicting findings about whether borderline obesity BMI is medically acceptable, and keeps people below the high-risk line of developing health complications that increase the risk of metabolic diseases, according to a recent release from Eurekalert. Complications such as ” . . . high blood pressure, high blood sugar, insulin resistance, and low levels of high-density lipoproteins, the “good” form of cholesterol that reduces heart disease risk,” all of which are typically associated with people suffering from obesity, may be just as prevalent in people whose level of obesity is considered metabolically healthy. This hypothesis is of particular importance, since previous studies reveal that as many as 30 percent of those whose weight and BMI put them in the category of “obese” may be metabolically healthy.
The San Antonio Heart Study’s corresponding author, Dr. Carlos Lorenzo, MD, of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, noted that, “Unfortunately, our findings suggest metabolically healthy obesity is not a benign condition. “Regardless of their current metabolic health, people who are obese face an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes in the future.”
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Dr. Lorenzo, an expert in Diabetes research who recently discovered that a person’s Deficient Ability To Regulate Serum Calcium Levels Could Lead To Type-2 Diabetes Development, believes that downplaying those considered to have metabolically healthy obesity could pose a risk to such patients developing diabetes and other diseases and conditions related to metabolic disease: “Our data demonstrate the importance of continuing to monitor for diabetes and cardiovascular disease in both people with metabolically healthy obesity and those who have metabolically abnormalities despite being a normal weight,” Lorenzo said. “If physicians and patients are too complacent about assessing risk, we can miss important opportunities to prevent the development of chronic and even deadly conditions.”
In the study, Dr. Lorenzo and fellow researchers analyzed both Mexican Americans and Caucasians alike in a large group that included incidence of diabetes in 2,814 participants and cardiovascular disease incidence in 3,700 participants, following up with the participants for between 6 and 10 years, comparing people of normal weight, obese weight, and metabolically healthy obese people to see if the different categories brought on higher levels of metabolic-related disease.
“Metabolically healthy” people are those people present no more than one elevated level of blood pressure, triglycerides, or blood sugar levels, or people who are found to be insulin resistant or present decreased HDL cholesterol. In this way, even if a person’s BMI is in the obese range, having only one or less of these unhealthy conditions still designates even an obese person as metabolically healthy.
The new data from this study bears out that this “metabolically healthy” designation does not trump Body Mass Index, and that increased, obese-level body mass index is indeed linked to an elevated risk of developing diabetes. This is not to say, however, that metabolic abnormalities are not accurate indicators of higher risk of metabolic disease, as the study also revealed that, ” . . . normal weight people who had multiple metabolic abnormalities also faced an increased risk of developing diabetes.” All in all, the new research demonstrates that BMI is a prevailing factor in determining risk of metabolic disease in obese people, and that medical practitioners should exhort their obese patients to reduce BMI, regardless of metabolic health indicators.