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Obesity is a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes; nevertheless, in many obese patients no cardiometabolic complications are present. For this group of patients the term “metabolically healthy obesity” (MHO) has been established in 1982. Currently, there is no standardized definition of MHO, and there are large variations in its prevalence rate. The underlying mechanisms of this phenotype are not clear. It has been suggested that preserved insulin sensitivity, as well as high levels of physical activity and genetic predisposition may differentiate metabolically healthy from unhealthy obese adults. Low grade inflammation in the adipose tissue is considered to be a crucial factor for the pathogenesis of metabolic diseases. Compared to the metabolically unhealthy obese phenotype, MHO is characterized by a more favorable inflammatory profile in adipose tissue, less visceral fat, less macrophagal infiltration of adipose tissue, smaller adipocyte cell size. The question remains of stability of the MHO phenotype. The aim of this review is to discuss the current literature data concerning characteristics of MHO phenotype, definitions, prevalence and potential protective mechanisms underlying MHO. We also discuss clinical implications of MHO phenotype.

About the authors

T. I. Romantsova

I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University

Author for correspondence.

Romantsova Tatiana Ivanovna – MD, PhD, Professor, Department of Endocrinology

* 8/2 Trubetskaya ul., Moscow, 119991, Russian Federation. Tel.: +7 (499) 248 38 66. E-mail:

Russian Federation

E. V. Ostrovskaya

I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University


Ostrovskaya Elena Vladimirovna – Postgraduate Student, Department of Endocrinology

Russian Federation


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Copyright (c) 2015 Romantsova T.I., Ostrovskaya E.V.

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