Friday, March 20, 2009

How Does Fat Accumulation Link to Diabetes?

Being overweight or obese, one is at risk of developing diabetes. Like it or not, he or she will have a much higher chance of getting heart disease and other medical conditions.

A recent study by researchers from Erasmus Medical Centre-Sophia, Children's Hospital, Rotterdam, the Netherlands argued that the amount of fat accumulation of people have as they grow into adulthood would affect their risk of developing Type-2 diabetes.

They found that fat mass of a person in adulthood was the only factor significantly related to insulin sensitivity. It has been known that reduced insulin sensitivity is a precursor to diabetes. As such, parents should be aware of the risk of fat accumulation in their children, independent of birth size or growth childhood.

There was research suggesting that low birth weight was linked to increased risk of Type-2 diabetes. Yet there were others proposing that the acceleration in growth in people who were born small but attain normal adult size has harmful effects on metabolism. Nevertheless, it is still not clear if people who are born small and catch up in body size or those remain small throughout their lifetime are at greater risk of getting Type-2 diabetes.

Insulin sensitivity of 136 young men and women were examined in the study. The participants consists of 4 groups: some were born small for gestational age and remained short as adults; some were born small but reached normal height in adulthood; some were of normal size at birth but grew up to be short adults; and some were born at normal size and remained normal size as adults.

At the end of the study, researchers discovered that fat mass in adulthood was the only measurement that showed a significant link with the insulin sensitivity. The group of men and women, who were born small but caught up in body size as adults, had significantly lower insulin sensitivity than the control group.

A so-called ‘fat accumulation hypothesis’ was then proposed in March 2008 by the researchers stating that ‘an increased accumulation of fat during childhood, independent of birth size, will result in reduced insulin sensitivity.’ They also believed growth acceleration in height and weight as such is not a problem as long as a normal amount of fat is accumulated.

In conclusion, the researchers urge all individuals, regardless of their size at birth, should try to achieve or maintain a normal fat mass for their body size.

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