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OBJECTIVES: To prospectively assess the association of metabolic health status and its transition with incident diabetes risk across BMI categories. DESIGN: Cohort study based on the China Kadoorie Biobank (CKB). METHODS: The CKB study enrolled 512 715 adults aged 30-79 years from ten diverse areas in China during 2004-2008. After exclusion, 432 763 participants were cross-classified by BMI categories and the metabolic status was followed up for incident diabetes disease. The changes in BMI and metabolic health status were defined from baseline to the second resurvey. RESULTS: Type 2 diabetes risk is higher for metabolically healthy obese (MHO) subjects than metabolically healthy normal weight (MHN) individuals (HR: 3.97, 95% CI: 3.64-3.66), and it is highest for those affected by metabolically unhealthy obese (MUO) (HR: 6.47, 95% CI: 6.17-6.79). About 15.26% of participants with MHN converted to metabolically healthy overweight or obesity (MHOO), whereas 48.40% of MHOO remained unconverted throughout the follow-up. In obese or overweight people, the conversion from metabolically healthy to unhealthy might increase the chances of developing diabetes as compared to those with a stable metabolic healthy state (HR: 3.70, 95% CI: 2.99-4.59), while those with persistent metabolic disorders are most likely to have diabetes (HR: 8.32, 95% CI: 7.08-9.78). CONCLUSIONS: Metabolic healthy is a transient state, and individuals converted from metabolically healthy status to unhealthy phenotypes across all BMI categories might raise the risk of diabetes.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Endocrinol

Publication Date





233 - 244


Adult, Aged, Body Mass Index, China, Cohort Studies, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2, Female, Health Status, Humans, Male, Metabolic Diseases, Middle Aged, Obesity, Obesity, Metabolically Benign, Phenotype, Prospective Studies, Risk Factors