Researchers in Ireland found obese people with fewer blood markers of inflammation were more likely to have a normal metabolic profile than those without.
Writing in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, they said inflammatory markers offered a target to better identify those at higher risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Although obesity is linked to a raised risk of these diseases, some obese people do not develop high BP and cholesterol and are known as metabolically healthy.
The researchers found these people had reduced white cell counts and inflammatory response proteins in their blood, as well as higher levels of adiponectin, a hormone with anti-inflammatory effects.
Lead author Catherine Phillips PhD from University College Cork in Ireland said: ‘From a public health standpoint, we need better methods for identifying which obese people face the greatest risk of diabetes and heart disease. Inflammatory markers offer a potential strategy for pinpointing people who could benefit most from medical interventions.’
In the study, the University College Cork team recruited 2,047 men and women aged 45-74. Researchers recorded the patients’ BP, BMI, waist circumference, smoking and alcohol status, diet and physical activity levels.
They then tested each participant for a range of metabolic health indicators, including levels of fasting plasma glucose, HDL and LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. They also measured a range of inflammation markers such as CRP.
They found that individuals, whether lean or obese, were more likely to be metabolically healthy if they had lower levels of the protein complement component 3, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, interleukin-6 and white blood cell counts, and had higher concentrations of adiponectin.