The most current conventional wisdom among doctors and obesity researchers goes something like this: While people who are obese are at high risk for metabolic syndrome ― a constellation of symptoms that increase the risk for Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and more ― there is also a significant group of obese people who are totally healthy and will remain healthy. This so-called “healthy obese” idea has been somewhat controversial ― a departure from decades of medical science that held obesity will, more often than not, had adverse effects on health.
Now new genetic research from scientists at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden suggests “healthy obesity” isn’t as clear-cut as it seems.
A genetic analysis showed that people who were obese but qualified as metabolically healthy still had fundamental differences in the way that genes in their fatty tissue express themselves. It’s unclear whether or not these genetic differences correspond to different disease risks, but the fact that genetic expression is altered on a cellular level suggests that there’s a lot more to healthy obesity than we think.