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Greater predisposition to abdominal fat could increase type 2 diabetes risk

Having a greater genetic likelihood of developing abdominal fat is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease, according to new research.
Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital in Bosto, US, added that their findings indicate a causal association between higher waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) and these outcomes.
The study team investigated whether genetic predisposition towards greater abdominal fat, adjusted for Body Mass Index (BMI), increased the risk of negative health outcomes.
Among the cardiometabolic traits examined were levels of insulin and glucose in the body and signs of type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.
Data from 322,154 participants was examined, all of whom had been involved in association studies between 2007 and 2015, and a further 111,986 people were studied who had participated in the UK Biobank between 2007 and 2011.
Participants who were genetically predisposed to a higher WHR adjusted for BMI had a greater risk of type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease, which the researchers believe could permit several conclusions.
Before this research, several studies had linked increased abdominal fat with these two conditions, but the mechanisms behind this association were unclear. These new findings support these previous studies.
Secondly, the accumulation of body fat beyond BMI measurement could help explain differences in risk for type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease among subpopulations.
“For example, increased abdominal adiposity at a given BMI has been proposed as an explanation for the excess risk of coronary heart disease observed in South Asians,” explained the authors explain.
“Similarly, greater abdominal adipose tissue at a given BMI has been proposed to underlie the excess risk of coronary heart disease at a given BMI among men compared with women.”
The researchers add that because there has been minimal progress in developing treatments that modify body fat distribution to reduce abdominal fat, their findings could lead to novel strategies to decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.
The study was published online in the journal JAMA.

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