AUG 19, 2016 4:06 PM PDT

"Healthy Obesity" May be a Myth

WRITTEN BY: Julianne Chiaet
Back in December, I wrote an article titled "Being 'Lean and Unfit' is Better Than Being 'Fat and Fit’" that outlined research suggesting normal weight men, regardless of their fitness level, were at a lower risk of death than obese individuals in the highest quarter of aerobic fitness. The article ended up being the most popular one I’ve written for this publication - and this popularity was partly due to the fact that the research was both highly disconcerting and directly affected many individuals (specifically, individuals on Reddit). 
 
Credit: Ryden et al./Cell Reports 2016

In general, those considered metabolically fit have a high sensitivity to the hormone insulin. Until recently, medical experts estimated that up to 30 percent of obese individuals were metabolically healthy; and these individuals were less prone to obesity-related complications. 

Obesity-related complications include cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Symptoms of these diseases don’t always lie in areas where extra fat has accumulated. Yet, obesity increases the risk of those diseases because it is a condition of systemic inflammation, according to research from the Institute for Molecular Medicine.

Now, research published on August 18 in Cell Reports has provided further evidence that being healthy while obese is a myth.

Researchers found that white tissue samples from obese patients showed nearly identical abnormal changes in gene expression in response to insulin regardless of whether the patient was metabolically healthy or unhealthy.
 
"The findings suggest that vigorous health interventions may be necessary for all obese individuals, even those previously considered to be metabolically healthy,” said Mikael Rydén, first author of the paper, from the Karolinska Institutet. "Since obesity is the major driver altering gene expression in fat tissue, we should continue to focus on preventing obesity."

The researchers are currently tracking the participants post-bariatric surgery to see whether the weight loss normalizes gene expression in response to insulin stimulation. 

Source: Cell Press press release via EurekAlert!Cell Reports, Rydén et al.: "The Adipose Transcriptional Response to Insulin Is Determined by Obesity, Not Insulin Sensitivity" 
About the Author
  • Julianne (@JuliChiaet) covers health and medicine for LabRoots. Her work has been published in The Daily Beast, Scientific American, and MailOnline. While primarily a science journalist, she has also covered culture and Japanese organized crime. She is the New York Board Representative for the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA). • To read more of her writing, or to send her a message, go to Jchiaet.com
You May Also Like
AUG 31, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
How Quickly Will Alzheimer's Progress? Inflammatory Proteins Have the Answers.
AUG 31, 2021
How Quickly Will Alzheimer's Progress? Inflammatory Proteins Have the Answers.
Alzheimer's is a neurodegenerative disease that affects over 26 million worldwide and is associated with memory prob ...
SEP 06, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Antibiotics Increase Colon Cancer Risk by 17%
SEP 06, 2021
Antibiotics Increase Colon Cancer Risk by 17%
People who take antibiotics are at an increased risk of developing colon cancer within five to ten years. The research w ...
SEP 07, 2021
Earth & The Environment
The Future of Flooding
SEP 07, 2021
The Future of Flooding
In the wake of recent flooding on the east coast as a result of Hurricane Ida, many people are wondering what the future ...
SEP 21, 2021
Microbiology
How Many Nasty Germs Are in Chewed Gum? Ig Nobel Winners Found Out
SEP 21, 2021
How Many Nasty Germs Are in Chewed Gum? Ig Nobel Winners Found Out
Do beards grow so a man's face will be protected from impact? Is it better to transport rhinos upside down? Does discard ...
SEP 22, 2021
Health & Medicine
Regular Exercise Linked to Huge Reduction in Anxiety Risk
SEP 22, 2021
Regular Exercise Linked to Huge Reduction in Anxiety Risk
Exercise is commonly touted as a good way to improve mental health, but little is known about why physical activity can ...
SEP 22, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Amyloid From the Liver May Contribute to Alzheimer's
SEP 22, 2021
Amyloid From the Liver May Contribute to Alzheimer's
While many changes have been observed in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients, amyloid plaques are considered a ha ...
Loading Comments...