Obesity is now a worldwide epidemic. In recent years, different phenotypes of obesity, ranging from metabolically healthy normal weight to metabolically unhealthy obese, were described. Although there is no standardized definition for these phenotypes or for metabolic health, the influence of lifestyle and early-life factors is undisputed. In this context, the ratio of muscle-to-fat tissue seems to play a crucial role. Both adipose tissue and skeletal muscle are highly heterogeneous endocrine organs secreting several hormones, with myokines and adipokines being involved in local autocrine/paracrine interactions and crosstalk with other tissues. Some of these endocrine factors are secreted by both tissues and are, therefore, termed adipo-myokines. High (cardiorespiratory) fitness as a surrogate parameter for an active lifestyle is epidemiologically linked to “better” metabolic health, even in the obese; this may be partly due to the role of adipo-myokines and the crosstalk between adipose and muscle tissue. Therefore, it is essential to consider (cardiovascular) fitness in the definition of metabolically healthy obese/metabolic health and to perform longitudinal studies in this regard. A better understanding of both the (early-life) lifestyle factors and the underlying mechanisms that mediate different phenotypes is necessary for the tailored prevention and personalized treatment of obesity.
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