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Why some obese people remain healthy while others develop type 2 diabetes and heart disease, study explains

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A new study has found why some people are less prone to heart disease and type 2 diabetes than others.

The findings of a recent study suggest that a person’s middle age may be a sign that they have “lucky” genes that protect them from certain diseases.

The genes determine how fat is distributed in a person’s body, with some people storing ‘visceral fat’ primarily around their important organs.

Others, on the other hand, have “favorable” genes that inhibit this, resulting in fat being stored away from the organs and in less dangerous places, such as a paunch or double chin.

The findings, according to the researchers, explain why some obese persons (those with a BMI of 30 or more) are relatively healthy while others suffer from severe illnesses like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

“Some people have unlucky fat genes, meaning they store higher levels of fat everywhere including under the skin, liver and pancreas,” says Dr. Hanieh Yaghootkar, lead author.

“That’s associated with a higher risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

“Others are luckier and have genes that mean higher fat under the skin but lower liver fat and a lower risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes.”

Researchers looked at 37 disorders known to be connected to obesity in the study, which was published in the journal eLife and supported by Diabetes UK. They found that twenty-one of them were caused by a BMI of at least 30.

12 of the 21 were more precisely connected to these fortunate genes, which regulate how and where fat is stored, including coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

Obesity was associated with the other nine illnesses, but not to the lucky genes. Instead, they are caused by a person’s body being overworked as a result of their weight. This includes deep vein thrombosis and arthritic knees, for example.

However, the researchers warn that even if a person has these fortuitous genes by accident, they would be in better health and have a lower risk of chronic disease if they were not obese.

Dr. Yaghootkar adds: “To better prevent and measure risk of disease, it is important to understand if obesity is a causal risk factor and, if it is causal, which consequences of it – be they metabolic, mechanical or psychological – are deriving the risk.

“Our results also provide evidence that everyone will benefit from losing their extra fat even if they are metabolically healthy.”

Image Credit: Getty

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