There is a growing global body positivity movement to combat the stigma and prejudice that overweight and obese individuals face. Some of this stigma arises from the perception that obese individuals are unhealthy.
However, weight is only one of the metrics that medical professionals use to assess overall health. In fact, some studies have demonstrated that a significant number of obese people are metabolically healthy, leading to the contention that one could be healthy at any size. This phenomenon is referred to as metabolically healthy obesity (MHO). Research is now starting to explore what this means.
A person who is MHO has healthy blood pressure, normal levels of blood lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides) and normal blood sugar. Having high values of one or more of these measures significantly increases one’s risk for cardiovascular disease.
It has been proposed that metabolically healthy obese individuals might be protected against obesity-related diseases. The extent of this protection has been controversial within the scientific community, and this is partly because we still don’t have a standardized definition of MHO.
So, over the past few years, researchers have gone to work to find out who can be defined as MHO, and to what extent people with MHO are protected from chronic disease.