Conventional wisdom holds that storing fat around your belly puts you at increased risk for type 2 diabetes. But surprising new findings from the University of Virginia School of Medicine suggest that naturally occurring variations in our genes can lead some people to store fat at the waist but also protect them from diabetes.
The unexpected discovery provides a more nuanced view of the role of obesity in diabetes and related health conditions. It also could pave the way for more personalized medicine – treatments tailored to the individual. For example, doctors might prioritize weight loss for patients whose genes put them at increased risk but place less emphasis on it for patients with protective gene variants, the researchers say.
“There is a growing body of evidence for metabolically healthy obesity. In this condition, people who would normally be at risk for cardiovascular diseases and diabetes because they are obese are actually protected from adverse effects of their obesity. In our study, we found a genetic link that may explain how this occurs in certain individuals,” said researcher Mete Civelek, PhD, of UVA’s Center for Public Health Genomics. “Understanding various forms of obesity is important to tailor treatments for individuals who are at high risk for adverse effects of obesity.”
Read more in the UVA Health newsroom.