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ACC: 'Normal Weight Obesity' Common, Tied to Heart Risks

Sixty percent of U.S. adults with normal body mass index have high body fat percent

TUESDAY, April 1 (HealthDay News) -- More than half of Americans with normal body weight have excessive body fat, a condition termed "normal weight obesity," and may be at risk for developing heart problems and diabetes, according to research presented at the American College of Cardiology's 57th Annual Scientific Session this week in Chicago.

Abel Romero-Corral, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues assessed body composition, fasting laboratory values and cardiovascular risk factors in 2,127 subjects with a normal body mass index (BMI) to investigate the prevalence and significance of normal weight obesity, defined as a normal BMI with high body fat (greater than 20 percent in men and greater than 30 percent in women).

The researchers found that 61 percent of patients had normal weight obesity. Individuals with normal weight obesity demonstrated cardiometabolic disturbances, including altered lipid profiles, high leptin levels and metabolic syndrome, which may put them at higher risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.

The high prevalence of normal weight obesity and its association of cardiometabolic disturbances suggest that measuring body fat may be a more accurate way to assess heart risk. "Combined, the data from our earlier work and the current study suggest it's time for a new measure of body fat as a risk factor of heart disease," one of the study co-authors notes in a statement.

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