Monday, April 28, 2008

Overeating, Not Obesity, Triggers Metabolic Syndrome

In fact, according to Dr. Unger, senior author of a study that appeared in the April 22 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: 1
"Obesity delays the onset of metabolic syndrome."
Although he adds,
"But it doesn't prevent it."
Metabolic Syndrome is a constellation of conditions associated with diabetes and heart disease. These conditions include high blood pressure, central obesity, dyslipidemia (low HDL/high LDL/high triglycerides), insulin resistance, and glucose intolerance. Fatty liver, elevated uric acid levels, and polycystic ovarian syndrome are among other possibly related conditions.

In Dr. Unger's words: 2
"We’re ingrained to think obesity is the cause of all health problems, when in fact it is the spillover of fat into organs other than fat cells that damages these organs, such as the heart and the liver. Depositing fatty molecules in fat cells where they belong actually delays that harmful spillover."
To investigate whether the capacity to store fat in fat cells plays a role in developing metabolic syndrome, researchers overfed two groups of mice. One group was genetically altered to prevent their fat cells from storing fat. These slim mice got sick quicker than the normal mice - whose fat cells expanded as they overate.

This study suggests that where fat is stored on the body is probably a better predictor of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes than overweight by itself.

1 Adipogenic Capacity And The Susceptibility To Type 2 Diabetes And Metabolic Syndrome, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, April, 2008
2 University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center press release:
How And Where Fat Is Stored Predicts Disease Risk Better Than Weight