We’ve often heard that accumulating fat around our midsections ups our risk for type 2 diabetes.
However, new research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine has unveiled that genetic variations may lead to abdominal fat accumulation yet, surprisingly, shield these individuals from diabetes.
This unexpected discovery, which was published in the journal eLife, nuances our understanding of the relationship between obesity and diabetes, potentially hinting at more personalized treatment methods in the future.
Metabolically Healthy Obesity: An Oxymoron?
According to researcher Mete Civelek of UVA’s Center for Public Health Genomics, there’s a phenomenon called “metabolically healthy obesity.”
In this case, certain obese individuals, who would typically be at risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, are seemingly unaffected by these adverse effects.
The new study appears to have found a genetic connection that could explain this puzzling phenomenon.
Waist Fat and Good Health: A Complex Relationship
In medicine, understanding the influence of natural gene variations is crucial in providing patients with the most suitable, tailored treatments.
For instance, metabolic syndrome, a group of health issues that raise the risk of diabetes, stroke, and other severe health problems, has been tied to gene variants that may protect some people from type 2 diabetes while predisposing others to metabolic syndrome.
Clinically, abdominal obesity is one of the measurements doctors use to ascertain if a patient has metabolic syndrome. But according to Civelek’s team, it may not be that straightforward for all patients.
In the future, genetic testing might be necessary to determine the best course towards achieving optimal health for individuals.
Discovering Unseen Connections
Lead author of the study and doctoral candidate at UVA’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, Yonathan Aberra, explains that among the many regions in our genomes that enhance our propensity to store excess fat in the abdomen, five regions play an unusual role.
Unexpectedly, these five regions appear to decrease an individual’s risk for type 2 diabetes.
In addition to these findings, the team developed new tools to help researchers understand the complexities of gene variations better.
Civelek asserts that it’s necessary to expand studies to more women and people from various genetic backgrounds to identify more genes associated with metabolically healthy obesity.
The goal is to build on these findings to conduct more experiments and potentially identify a therapeutic target.
If you care about weight loss, please read studies that hop extract could reduce belly fat in overweight people, and early time-restricted eating could help lose weight.
For more information about diabetes, please see recent studies about How to eat to prevent type 2 diabetes and 5 vitamins that may prevent complications in diabetes.
The study was published in eLife.
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