This study investigated the number of Korean adults who had a normal body mass index (BMI) but high body-fat percentage (BF%) and determined their increased risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, including high blood pressure, hyperglycemia, and dyslipidemia.

Design and Methods

This cross-sectional study was based on 12,386 subjects (6,534 men and 5,852 women), with a normal BMI, between 30 and 49 years of age. Subjects were categorized into two groups by BF% (normal BF% group, BF% <25 for men, and BF% <30 for women; high BF(%) group, BF% ≥25 for men, and BF% ≥30 for women).


The proportion of subjects with a normal BMI and high BF% was 12.7% (n = 1,572; 291 [4.5%] men and 1,281 [21.9%] women). Subjects with a high BF% had a significantly higher prevalence of high blood pressure (men only), hyperglycemia, and dyslipidemia. Multiple logistic regression analyses revealed that subjects with a normal BMI and high BF% had a 1.63 (adjusted odds ratio, 95% confidence interval: 1.21–2.19) in men and 1.56 (adjusted odds ratio, 95% confidence interval: 1.36–1.80) in women increased risk of one or more cardiovascular risk factors compared to subjects in the normal BMI and normal BF% group, even after adjusting for abdominal obesity.


High BF% is associated with a high cardiometabolic risks, regardless of abdominal obesity, in normal-weight Korean adults. Thus, follow-up screening of those with a high BF% may be necessary to detect and prevent cardiometabolic diseases, particularly for women with a normal BMI.