Normal Weight Obesity: More Than Meets the Eye

Normal weight obesity is one more reminder that obesity is not a simple visual diagnosis. Approximately 30 million Americans have a BMI considered healthy by epidemiologists (BMI 18.5-25), and yet have all the metabolic features and risks of obesity.

Estefania Oliveros and colleagues have just published an excellent overview of normal weight obesity in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases. They call attention to the need for diagnosing obesity based on adiposity, not body weight.

Normal weight obesity is the flip side of good metabolic health at a high BMI. About one in five people with a BMI in the range of obesity have normal metabolic health. They will live a normal life to a normal age. That’s why experts in obesity medicine go beyond BMI to diagnose obesity, using something like the Edmonton Obesity Staging System.

BMI is a great tool for epidemiologists. But it’s inadequate for diagnosing obesity in an individual. Obesity is a disease of excess adiposity and the metabolic dysfunction that results.

It’s not simply a matter of size.

Click here to read the publication by Oliveros et al and here to read more from the Rochester Post-Bulletin.

MacDougald Adipose Cells, photograph © UMHealthSystem / flickr

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