45% of people living with obesity have healthy blood pressure

living with obesity, cardiovascular
© Oleksandr Shyripa

Scientists have discovered that up to 45% of people living with obesity have healthy blood pressure, glucose and lipid levels – protecting them from the risk of cardiovascular disease

Scientists at the University of Copenhagen and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York believe that they have fresh insight into people living with obesity, which could change the future of treatment.

Interestingly, they found that up to 45% of people living with obesity are not at risk of contracting a dangerous disease.

Obesity tends to come with unhealthily high levels of glucose and lipids, alongside high blood pressure. This brings a huge risk to every obese individual for cardiovascular diseases. The research team identified 62 sections of the genome that are linked to elevated body fat levels and at the time time, linked to protection against negative health impacts of obesity.

‘We used a data-driven approach’

Staff Scientist Lam Opal Huang from CBMR carried out the computational analyses that identified the genes. Lam said: “We used a data-driven approach in this study, which led us to find new genes associated with fat tissue health, instead of the known obesity genes associated with central nervous system, which control satiety and are typically linked to unhealthy obesity.”

They found that that the genes had a range of functions in the body, such the regulation and development of fat cells, distribution of body fat. They also played a role in energy regulation and inflammation.

‘Obesity is a complex disease’

Professor Ruth Loos from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said: “Clearly, obesity is a complex disease and not every individual with excess body weight is equally at risk of developing cardiometabolic diseases. Knowing which genes protect people from developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease will eventually help us better diagnose and treat individuals with obesity.”

A newly discovered 45% of people living with obesity are safe from this risk. This finding could even break the connection between higher levels of body fat and diabetes.

‘The development of new therapies’

Associate Professor Tuomas Kilpeläinen from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research (CBMR) at the University of Copenhagen, commented: “The identified genes seem to benefit our health by helping to maintain a healthy fat tissue. Some of the genes may offer targets for the development of new therapies that lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease by improving the health of our fat tissue.”

Read the full study here.


  1. As a short, fat lady (ie, high BMI) I’d noticed that. I also used to work with rugby players who were often as wide as they were tall but with a heart & lung rates that many a skinny minny would envy. I also have a low blood pressure, to the extent that admission to hospital for any reason usually means being put onto a saline drip because ‘my bp is too low’, a low blood sugar level which is usually below 5 unless I have an infection/ illness requiring medicine/tablets & a reasonable cholesterol level. Oh, and I used to be a smoker so that a previous GP who was very keen to get me to stop sent me for a lung function test which turned out to be so good she commented that ‘my inner organs were obviously unaware that I was an overweight smoker’. My current GP is very eager to convince me that I am pre-diabetic because, when she sends me for blood tests when I am ill (I also have lymphoedema following cancer treatment…genetic not lifestyle), I usually have some inflammation not to mention the effects of any medicine which always contains sugar (can we please ditch the Mary Poppins edict of a spoonful of sugar?) so my blood sugar level is raised. She seems to be unable to factor in these facts since the ‘tests’ show I have a higher average level because the two measurements they are using to calculate the average are both higher as they are both taken in the same circumstances even if 6 months apart! As an accountant, I deal with statistics quite a lot so am fully aware of the old adage that you can prove anything with statistics but can’t a tiny bit of common sense be factored in somewhere or am I correct in my belief that doctors get higher allowances per patient the more patients that can be identified as diabetic or in need of statins, etc which goes a long way to explaining their wish to include as many patients as possible in these groups?


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