UK researchers say that a subset of individuals with obesity could be protected from such conditions as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
The University of Bristol reports that fat stem cells in healthy obese individuals can store fat more efficiently than those with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
This increased efficiency of fat storage can protect internal organs such as the liver and heart from fat deposition, which heightens diabetes risk.
“The existence of obese individuals with lower risk of diabetes has received great interest in the past few years, as they may hold the clue to understanding and possibly treating obesity-associated diabetes,” said Dr Wael Kafienah, University of Bristol’s School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine.
This new study from Kafienah and colleagues found that obese individuals with higher circulating blood levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), an inflammatory marker, had an impaired ability to store excess fat.
But when fat stem cells were isolated from healthy obese individuals, and exposed to IL-6, they behaved like cells obtained by people with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
“Our clinical data confirmed the previously-reported variability in obesity-associated pathology,” added Kafienah. “Here, we have shown that the group with healthy fat stem cells had lower cholesterol and a better liver function.”
The UK has the second highest obesity rate in Europen, and the Bristol researchers have highlighted the significance of these findings.
By demonstrating the importance of fat stem cells within the context of type 2 diabetes, study teams can now try to improve the efficiency of these cells within obese patients with prediabetes, and reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
It is not fully known why some people are obese and yet relatively healthy. Whilst researchers are looking for novel ways to prevent type 2 diabetes, the most reliable way to reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, or improve your health if you have diabetes, is to focus on eating real, unprocessed food and being physically active on a regular basis.
The study has been published in the online journal Diabetologia.

Get our free newsletters

Stay up to date with the latest news, research and breakthroughs.

You May Also Like

Type 2 diabetes found to be a ‘significant risk factor’ among stroke victims

More evidence has been published which supports that diabetes is a “significant…

Top diabetes professor drafts risk assessment document for frontline COVID-19 staff

The health and wellbeing of frontline NHS staff has been prioritised among…

Public Health England considers low carb approach for type 2 diabetes

The low carb approach is being considered by the government to be…