A total of 62 genes have been identified that lead to both higher levels of body fat, but also a lower risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, researchers have said.

Historically, obese people have always been more prone to metabolic diseases because they have high glucose and lipid levels in their blood, as well as high blood pressure.

But a new study has found that 45 per cent of people living with obesity actually have healthy levels and therefore the risk is no greater for them.

Associate Professor Tuomas Kilpeläinen from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research (CBMR) at the University of Copenhagen, said: “The identified genes seem to benefit our health by helping to maintain a healthy fat tissue.

“Some of the genes may offer targets for the development of new therapies that lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease by improving the health of our fat tissue.”

The gene discovery was made after data taken from hundreds of thousands people was analysed. The researchers compared their body fat with disease risk markers.

Through their work they discovered 62 genes were associated with both high levels of body fat and lower risk of cardiometabolic diseases.

Staff Scientist Lam Opal Huang from CBMR said: “We used a data-driven approach in this study, which led us to find new genes associated with fat tissue health, instead of the known obesity genes associated with central nervous system, which control satiety and are typically linked to unhealthy obesity.”

Professor Ruth Loos from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and who was also involved in the research, said: “Clearly, obesity is a complex disease and not every individual with excess body weight is equally at risk of developing cardiometabolic diseases. Knowing which genes protect people from developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease will eventually help us better diagnose and treat individuals with obesity.”

The findings have been published in the journal Nature Metabolism.

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