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|