The long-term prognosis of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality for metabolically healthy obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis

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Metabolically healthy obese phenotype (MHO) refers to obese individuals with absence of metabolic abnormalities such as dyslipidaemia, insulin resistance and hypertension. Many studies reported the long-term prognosis of MHO on diseases and mortality with inconsistent results.


We performed a meta-analysis to assess the risks of cardiovascular (CV) events and all-cause mortality for MHO individuals. Original prospective observational studies were searched in Medline, EMBASE, Web of Science and Cochrane library up to 30 September 2015. In this meta-analysis, the relative risk (RR) calculated on the basis of the incident number of disease events and deaths in participants and the corresponding multivariable-adjusted HR were both extracted to calculate pooled risk estimates. A random-effects model was used if there was heterogeneity among studies; otherwise, the fixed-effects model was used.


22 prospective studies, involving 584 799 participants, were archived in the analyses. With metabolically healthy normal weight as the reference, the MHO phenotype was associated with a higher risk of CV events (RR 1.50, 95% CI 1.27 to 1.77; HR 1.60, 95% CI 1.38 to 1.84). However, MHO individuals were not associated with increased risk of all-cause mortality (RR 1.18, 95% CI 0.83 to 1.66; HR 1.07, 95% CI 0.92 to 1.25).


The meta-analysis confirms a positive association between a metabolically healthy obese phenotype and the risk of CV events. However, higher risk for all-cause mortality is not evident in metabolically healthy obese individuals.

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