CBBM Lecture "Healthy obesity – fact or fiction?" by

Matthias Blüher, MD, Professor of Molecular Endocrinology Faculty of Medicine, University of Leipzig

will take place on Tuesday, 4 June 2019 from 17:15 to 18:15 hours in CBBM Building, Ground Floor, Seminar Room B1/B2.

Host: Dr. Henriette Kirchner
Department of Internal Medicine I
University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein 
Campus Lübeck


Obesity is an important risk factor for type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, fatty liver disease, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer. However, the individual obesity-related risk for these diseases is not determined by increased fat mass alone. Therefore, there must be factors, which protect a subgroup of obese individuals – so called metabolically healthy obese - against obesity-related diseases. Heterogeneity of body composition, fat distribution and adipose tissue function may underly the variable risk to develop metabolic and cardiovascular diseases associated with increased body fat mass. Central body fat distribution has been shown to better predict obesity-related cardiometabolic diseases than whole body fat mass or body weight. Dysfunction of adipose tissue maybe initiated by an inability of adipose tissue to increase body fat mass by recruiting new (healthy) adipocytes, which activates a sequence of pathological mechanisms including cellular insulin resistance and increased lipolytic capacity, intracellular accumulation of toxic molecules, activation of stress pathways, visceral (ectopic) fat accumulation, changes in the cellular and intracellular matrix composition, increased number of immune cells within adipose tissue, increased autophagy and apoptosis, fibrosis, alterations in gene and protein expression patterns. Most likely, impaired adipocyte function is caused by genetic, behavioural and environmental factors which are not entirely understood. As a result of impaired subcutaneous adipose tissue expandability, adipocytes become larger and release signals (e.g. hormones, cells, metabolites) resulting in a proinflammatory, diabetogenic and atherogenic serum profile. These adverse signals may contribute to inflammation of adipose tissue and secondary organ damage in target tissues such as liver, brain, endothelium, vasculature, endocrine organs and skeletal muscle.

However, it is at least debatable whether “healthy obesity really exists. The myth of “healthy obesity” will be discussed and current analyses of obesity without any accompanied disease or adverse health conditions will be critically reviewed.


Matthias Blüher is Professor of Molecular Endocrinology and Speaker of the Collaborative Research Center “Obesity mechanisms” at the University of Leipzig in Leipzig, Germany. Matthias Blüher´s research is focused on the role of adipose tissue function and distribution in insulin resistance, the development of type 2 diabetes and other metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.

Matthias´ work has been recognised both nationally and internationally, as he is a recipient of the Obesity Research Award of the German Obesity Society 2003, the Ferdinand-Bertram-Prize of the German Diabetes Association 2008, a European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) Minkowski Award (2008), and the Minkowski Prize of the EASD 2015. Professor Blüher completed his medical studies at the University of Leipzig and his postdoctoral fellowship at the Joslin Diabetes Centre (C. R. Kahn), Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA.