J Obes Metab Syndr.  2017 Jun;26(2):130-137. 10.7570/jomes.2017.26.2.130.

Prevalence and Associated Characteristics of Metabolically Healthy Obese Phenotypes in a Community Dwelling Population

  • 1School of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Ulsan, Ulsan, Korea.
  • 2Nowon Health Care Center, Seoul, Korea.
  • 3Department of Sports Science, Seoul National University of Science and Technology, Seoul, Korea. hskim@seoultech.ac.kr


Recent research has focused on overweight and obese individuals with healthy metabolic profiles. Metabolically healthy and obese (MHO) individuals may have unique characteristics, compared to metabolically unhealthy obese (MUO) individuals. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the prevalence and clinical characteristics of both MHO and metabolically unhealthy normal-weight (MUNW) phenotypes in a community dwelling population.
Data from women (n=1,916) and men (n=867) aged 20 to 73 years who participated in the Health Examination of Nowon Health Care Center were analyzed. Subjects were categorized according to the presence, absence, or combination of metabolic syndrome and Asian-specific body mass index (BMI) criteria for overweight and obesity.
The proportions of metabolic healthy individuals in the overweight and obese categories were 67% (overweight) and 39% (obese), respectively. The prevalence rate of the MUNW was 12% of normal weight individuals. Within the overweight and obese categories, MHO individuals tended to be younger compared with their MUO counterparts. High waist circumference (WC) and low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C)levels were two of the most common metabolic risk factors observed in the metabolically unhealthy group.
The prevalence of both MHO and MUNW phenotypes is relatively high in this community-dwelling population. There is an urgent need for the implementation of lifestyle intervention, consisting of regular exercise and healthy eating in the Nowon Health Care Center.


MHO; MUNW; Metabolic syndrome risk factor
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