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Normal weight obesity: An emerging risk factor for heart and metabolic problems
Date:3/27/2008

CHICAGO -- More than half of American adults considered to have normal body weight in America have high body fat percentages -- greater than 20 percent for men and 30 percent for women -- as well as heart and metabolic disturbances, new Mayo Clinic research shows. The finding conflicts with the widely held belief that maintaining a normal weight automatically guards against disorders such as high levels of circulating blood fats and a tendency to develop metabolic syndrome, which often leads to type 2 diabetes.

The researchers defined normal weight by body mass index (BMI). They found that people with normal BMI who had the highest percentage of body fat were also those who had metabolic disturbances linked to heart disease. The researchers use the phrase normal weight obesity to describe this new type of patient at risk for metabolism problems and risk factors for heart disease, but who rates as normal on standard weight charts. They defined normal weight obesity as a condition of having a normal BMI with high body fat percentage. The Mayo team will present its study results at the American College of Cardiologys Annual Scientific Session next week in Chicago.

Using the term normal weight obesity is really a way of being more precise about the changing conceptualization of obesity, because the real definition of obesity is excess body fat, says Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D., a cardiologist on the Mayo research team. Our study demonstrates that even people with normal weight may have excessive body fat, and that these people are at risk for metabolic abnormalities that lead to diabetes and, eventually, to heart disease.

Significance of the Mayo Clinic Study

Heart disease remains the major cause of death and disability in westernized countries. Researchers around the world are striving to refine the relationship of body composition to heart health as a means of:

  • Designing more effective risk assessmen
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Contact: Traci Klein
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
Source:Eurekalert

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