It Take More Than Obesity To Shorten Lifespan Interview with:

Jennifer L. Kuk, PhD Associate Professor York University School of Kinesiology and Health Science Toronto, Ontario 

Dr. Kuk

Jennifer L. Kuk, PhD
Associate Professor
York University
School of Kinesiology and Health Science
Toronto, Ontario What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Most of the literature on metabolic health obesity has shown that individuals with ‘metabolically healthy obesity’ are still at increased mortality risk.

However, most of these studies have defined healthy as zero or one metabolic risk factor.  This is problematic as hypertension, diabetes or dyslipidemia alone increase your mortality risk and should preclude you from the ‘healthy’ group.

We show that individuals with obesity and no other metabolic risk factors are no more likely to die than normal weight individuals with no metabolic risk factors. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Individuals with obesity who are struggling with their body weight but are otherwise healthy should re-evaluate why they want to lose weight and realize that they can be healthy and live a long life even with obesity. Over 1 in 20 individuals with obesity would fall in the healthy category and so as a society we need to stop equating health with body weight, and realize that healthy can come in many shapes and sizes. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work? 

Response: Future work is needed to determine whether these individuals with metabolic healthy obesity are at elevated risk for certain types of mortality risk or have other issues such as lower quality or life or non-metabolic morbidity that would indicate weight loss.  However, our work does question whether the current guidelines should continue to recommend all individuals with obesity lose weight for health benefits. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: There are very few treatments for obesity and none that are effective at bringing individuals back to a normal weight status.  Obesity is a chronic condition and in contrast to the common public opinion, it cannot be ‘fixed’ by eating less and moving more.  Society needs to stop judging individuals based on their body weight, and realize that all of us can live healthier lifestyles.

No disclosures, but the work was supported by a grant from the Canadian institutes of Health Research  


L. Kuk, M. Rotondi, X. Sui, S. N. Blair, C. I. Ardern.Individuals with obesity but no other metabolic risk factors are not at significantly elevated all-cause mortality risk in men and women.Clinical Obesity, 2018; DOI: 10.1111/cob.12263 

Jul 13, 2018 @ 3:49 pm

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