March 15, 2010
Fat Protects Against Bad Diet?

Is obesity the body's attempt to protect you from bad food you eat?

In an attempt to determine the effects of obesity itself, diabetes researchers Roger Unger and Philipp Scherer, both at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, reviewed several recent studies of the role of fat cells in humans and mice.

In particular, the pair looked at the fates of people with a genetic condition that means they can't make their own fat cells and mice genetically engineered to have low supplies of these cells and fed a diet that would make normal mice obese. They found that, despite not being obese, both tend to develop metabolic syndrome earlier on in life than their overweight, overfed counterparts.

Fat as a protective cushion against junk food? Can this be?

I'm not ready to let fat off the hook. Plenty of studies find evidence that intra-abdominal fat causes harm. For example, fat around the heart spells trouble.

The first study, presented by cardiology fellow Nikolaos Alexopoulos, MD, now at the University of Athens, Greece, shows that patients with a larger volume of epicardial adipose tissue tend to have the types of atherosclerotic plaques cardiologists deem most dangerous: non-calcified plaques.

Calcium tends to build up in atherosclerotic plaques. Even though the heart's overall coronary calcium burden is a good predictor of heart disease, calcium in an individual plaque doesn't necessarily mean imminent trouble, Raggi says. Researchers have been learning that non-calcified plaques indicate active buildup in that coronary artery, and studies suggest that the fat around the heart secretes more inflammatory hormones, compared to the fat just under the skin.

"Release of inflammatory factors from epicardial adipose tissue may be promoting an active atherosclerotic process, and this is indicated by the presence of non-calcified plaques," Raggi says.

In any case, eat fruits and vegetables, eat whole grains if you must eat grains, and get exercise.

The way I would prefer to deal with the slings and arrows of diet, weight, and aging: Get in a time machine and come out in 2050 when rejuvenation therapies should be perfected.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 March 15 10:55 PM  Aging Diet Weight Studies


Comments
random said at March 16, 2010 9:15 AM:

From the first article:
1)..."obesity protects the body from the effects of overeating by providing somewhere safe to deposit the dietary deluge of fat and sugar, which in excess is toxic to many body tissues."

2)"Only when the body's fat cells, or adipocytes, are crammed to capacity do the problems of metabolic syndrome begin."

This does make a great deal of sense. When your gut or butt are too saturated to absorb the deluge of an unhealthy meal, then it falls back to epicardial fat to pick up the slack. That's where fat is bad for you.

It also follows what I've learned about losing weight: it's all about what you (don't) eat. Eating/drinking the wrong foods just makes you hungrier without really satisfying your appetite. Exercise offers many health benefits, but weight loss is not one of them.

For me, exercise actually makes it harder to lose weight because it stimulates my appetite so much.

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