Metabolically healthy obese and incident cardiovascular disease events among 3.5 million men and women

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Rishi Caleyachetty
  • Konstantinos A. Toulis
  • Kumarendran Balachandran

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Department of Endocrinology
  • General Military Hospital
  • University of Kelaniya


Background: Previous studies have been unclear about the cardiovascular risks for metabolically healthy obese individuals.

Objectives: This study examined the associations among metabolically healthy obese individuals and 4 different presentations of incident cardiovascular disease in a contemporary population.

Methods: We used linked electronic health records (1995 to 2015) in The Health Improvement Network (THIN) to assemble a cohort of 3.5 million individuals, 18 years of age or older and initially free of cardiovascular disease. We created body size phenotypes defined by body mass index categories (underweight, normal weight, overweight, and obesity) and 3 metabolic abnormalities (diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia). The primary endpoints were the first record of 1 of 4 cardiovascular presentations (coronary heart disease [CHD], cerebrovascular disease, heart failure, and peripheral vascular disease).

Results: During a mean follow-up of 5.4 years, obese individuals with no metabolic abnormalities had a higher risk of CHD (multivariate-adjusted hazard ratio [HR]: 1.49; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.45 to 1.54), cerebrovascular disease (HR: 1.07; 95% CI: 1.04 to 1.11), and heart failure (HR: 1.96; 95% CI: 1.86 to 2.06) compared with normal weight individuals with 0 metabolic abnormalities. Risk of CHD, cerebrovascular disease, and heart failure in normal weight, overweight, and obese individuals increased with increasing number of metabolic abnormalities.

Conclusions: Metabolically healthy obese individuals had a higher risk of coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and heart failure than normal weight metabolically healthy individuals. Even individuals who are normal weight can have metabolic abnormalities and similar risks for cardiovascular disease events.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1429-1437
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number12
Early online date11 Sep 2017
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sep 2017


  • cerebrovascular disease, coronary heart disease, heart failure, obesity, overweight, phenotype, weight

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