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Low Inflammation Linked to Healthy Metabolic Status in Obese People

Update Date: Aug 27, 2013 05:25 PM EDT
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Obesity has been linked to a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease.  However, some people who are obese do not develop high blood pressure and negative cholesterol profiles, factors that increase the risk of metabolic diseases.

About 35 percent of obese people may be metabolically health, according to researchers. In the latest study, scientists discovered that low inflammation may explain how some obese people are able to remain metabolically healthy.

"In our study, metabolically healthy people - both obese and non-obese - had lower levels of a range of inflammatory markers," lead author, Catherine Phillips, BSc, PhD, of University College Cork in Ireland, said in a news release. "Regardless of their body mass index, people with favorable inflammatory profiles also tended to have healthy metabolic profiles."

Researchers analyzed data from 2,040 participants in Ireland.  Participants were between the ages of 50 and 69. 

Participants completed lifestyle questionnaires, physical and clinical assessments, and underwent blood testing so their body mass index (BMI), metabolic profiles and inflammatory markers could be determined.

After examining levels of several inflammatory markers, the study found that participants who lifestyle questionnaires, physical and clinical assessments, and underwent blood testing so their body mass index (BMI), metabolic profiles and inflammatory markers could be determined. These people also had higher levels of adiponectin, a hormone that has an anti-inflammatory effect, compared to their metabolically unhealthy counterparts.

Researchers noted that this inflammatory profile was present in both obese and lean people who were metabolically healthy.

"From a public health standpoint, we need better methods for identifying which obese people face the greatest risk of diabetes and heart disease," Phillips said. "Inflammatory markers offer a potential strategy for pinpointing people who could benefit most from medical interventions."

The findings are published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

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