University of Hull logo

Characterization of the metabolically healthy phenotype in overweight and obese British men

Swainson, Michelle; Sandercock, Gavin R.; Ingle, Lee; Brodie, David; Mellis, Michelle; Sandercock, Gavin


David Brodie

Michelle Swainson

Gavin R. Sandercock


We calculated the prevalence of the metabolically healthy but obese (MHO) phenotype in (n=9 177) British men (age 48.9±7.4 years) attending preventive health screening between 2000 and 2009. We examined differences in cardiorespiratory fitness (Fitness) and self-reported physical activity levels, according to whether the men were metabolically healthy (<2 components of the metabolic syndrome), and by BMI category (normal-weight, over-weight, obese). Fitness was estimated from treadmill exercise as VO2peak and classified as: Low, Moderate, or High using age-specific cut-offs. We identified 21.6% of our sample as obese, of whom 83.1% were metabolically healthy. Compared with the metabolic unhealthy obese (MUO; 3.7% of sample), MHO phenotypes were fitter (effect size d=0.21) and were more physically active (d=0.31). Logistic regression showed high fitness (OR=2.40, 95%CI 1.38-4.19), and being physically active (OR=1.71, 95% CI 1.14-2.56) to be independently associated with the MHO phenotype. Our findings agree with US data suggesting that higher cardiorespiratory fitness is a characteristic of the MHO phenotype. Our finding that meeting physical activity guidelines was associated with the MHO phenotype independent of fitness is, however, novel. If confirmed, our findings indicate that public health messages that en-courage active lifestyles to promote fitness should be encouraged regardless of weight status.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2017
Journal Preventive medicine
Print ISSN 0091-7435
Electronic ISSN 1096-0260
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 94
Pages 7-11
Keywords Cardiorespiratory fitness, Physical activity, Metabolic healthy, Metabolic unhealthy, Obesity, Metabolic syndrome
Publisher URL
Additional Information This article is maintained by: Elsevier; Article Title: Characterization of the metabolically healthy phenotype in overweight and obese British men; Journal Title: Preventive Medicine; CrossRef DOI link to publisher maintained version:; Content Type: article; Copyright: © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


You might also like

Downloadable Citations