(HealthDay News) — Almost 10% of obese people have no cardiometabolic risk factors (CRFs), according to research published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Preventing Chronic Disease.

The new study involved 1.3 million overweight and obese adults served by four health systems in 11 states and the District of Columbia. Using electronic medical record data, researchers looked for four CRFs: elevated blood pressure; elevated triglycerides; low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol; and elevated blood glucose. The study excluded people who already had diabetes.

The researchers found that across all overweight and obese adults in the study, the presence of CRFs varied widely. But with increasing levels of obesity, the likelihood of having at least one CRF also increased. Among participants who were overweight, 18.6% had no CRFs; among obese participants, 9.6% had no risk factors. Among those considered morbidly obese, 5.8% had no CRFs. Black adults were 28.0% less likely than whites in the study to have risk factors. Of overweight and obese people age 80 and older, 2.8% had zero CRFs, vs 29.2% of those ages 20 to 34.

Lead author Gregory Nichols, PhD, a senior investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore., told HealthDay that diet and exercise or genetics may play a role. Or, he added, it may be a matter of timing. The study provided a snapshot of overweight and obese adults at a point in time. Nichols said if he and his team had followed the study population over an extended period, they may have found that some people develop risk factors very quickly, while others take much longer to do so.

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  1. Nichols GA, Horberg M, Koebnick C, et al. Cardiometabolic Risk Factors Among 1.3 Million Adults With Overweight or Obesity, but Not Diabetes, in 10 Geographically Diverse Regions of the United States, 2012-2013. Prev Chronic Dis. 9 March 2017. doi: 10.5888/pcd14.160438