Do lifestyle factors and quality of life differ in people with metabolically healthy and unhealthy obesity?

Sarah S. Farabi, Gordon I. Smith, George G. Schweitzer, Richard I. Stein, Samuel Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background and objectives: Although obesity is typically associated with metabolic co-morbidities, some people with obesity do not develop metabolic abnormalities. We evaluated whether modifiable lifestyle factors (i.e., physical activity, dietary composition, and sleep characteristics) can help explain why some people with obesity are metabolically healthy (MHO) and whether metabolically unhealthy obesity (MUO) affects quality of life (QOL). Subjects/methods: Physical activity and sleep characteristics were assessed by using tri-axial accelerometers and dietary intake, sleep quality, and QOL were evaluated by using validated questionnaires in people stratified into three groups: (1) lean with normal glucose tolerance, plasma triglyceride (TG) concentration and intrahepatic TG (IHTG) content (metabolically healthy lean [MHL]; n = 20); (2) obesity and normal glucose tolerance, plasma TG concentration and IHTG content (MHO; n = 36); and (3) obesity with abnormal glucose metabolism and hepatic steatosis (MUO; n = 43). Results: People with MHO performed ~45-min more light-intensity physical activity/day than the MHL and MUO groups (P < 0.05). QOL, particularly the physical function domain, was higher in the MHO than the MUO group (P < 0.05). Although self-reported intake of starch, dairy, and cured meats were higher in the MUO than the MHO group (P < 0.02), the absolute differences were small and unlikely to have metabolic effects. No differences were found in sleep duration or quality between groups. Conclusions: These data suggest physical activity, but not sleep or dietary intake, contribute to better metabolic health in people with MHO than those with MUO, and that QOL is lower in people with MUO than those with MHO.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1778-1785
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2022


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