Hypertension risk soars in ‘metabolically healthy’ overweight Chinese adults

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

There are a large number of metabolically healthy, yet overweight / obese people in China. ©iStock
There are a large number of metabolically healthy, yet overweight / obese people in China. ©iStock

Related tags Obesity Nutrition

Overweight or obese Chinese individuals — even those with a healthy metabolic phenotype — have a significantly increased risk of hypertension compared to those within the normal weight range.

That was the key finding of a prospective cohort study of more than 4,000 people.

Two waves of data were collected in 2009 and 2011 by the China Health Nutrition Survey, with participants divided into four groups: metabolically healthy non-overweight / obese (MHNO), metabolically healthy overweight / obese (MHO), metabolically abnormal non-overweight / obese (MANO), and metabolically abnormal overweight / obese (MAO).

The estimated risk of hypertension was then assessed in relation to the different metabolic phenotypes.

Among a total of 4,604 adults aged 18 to 65 years at baseline, 467 developed hypertension during the two-year follow-up period.

Significantly increased risks for hypertension were found for participants in all groups, apart from the MHNO group.

“Metabolically abnormal individuals, regardless of their body weight status, showed significantly higher risks for hypertension compared with healthy non-overweight / obese group. Furthermore, MHO individuals had a significantly increased risk of incident hypertension compared with their counterparts,” ​wrote researchers in the journal Public Health.

This finding is particularly relevant due to the high proportion of metabolically healthy, yet overweight / obese people in China.

Higher levels

The study shows that a high prevalence (70.1%) of overweight / obese Chinese adults were metabolically healthy.

“Our results are higher than those of two studies in Korea, which found that 21.9% (n = 10,362) and 18.1% (n = 745) of the obese samples were metabolically healthy, respectively. Another study in the UK also reported that 22.0% within the obese participants (n = 5288) were categorised as metabolically healthy.”

The researchers, led by academics from Wuhan University, concluded: “Therefore, interventional strategies on obese individuals with healthy metabolic parameters are still needed to prevent the development of hypertension and cardiovascular outcomes.”

Source: Public Health


“Association between obesity phenotypes and incident hypertension among Chinese adults: a prospective cohort study”

Authors: Z. K. Cao, et al.

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