-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
TUESDAY, Aug. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Obese people are generally
believed to be at greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes and
heart disease, but a new study suggests the risk may have more to
do with inflammation than extra pounds.
Researchers in Ireland report that chronic inflammation may
affect the risk for heart disease and diabetes, which are caused by
so-called metabolic factors including high blood sugar, high blood
pressure and high cholesterol. The findings could help explain why
up to 35 percent of obese people are not affected by metabolic
disorders -- a phenomenon known as metabolically healthy
"In our study, metabolically healthy people -- both obese and nonobese -- had lower levels of a range of inflammatory markers," study author Catherine Phillips, of University College Cork, said in a news release from the Endocrine Society. "Regardless of their body-mass index, people with favorable inflammatory profiles also tended to have healthy metabolic profiles."
In conducting the study, the researchers examined information on
2,040 people between 50 and 60 years of age involved in the Cork
and Kerry Diabetes and Heart Disease Study.
The participants were surveyed about their lifestyle, and
underwent physical exams and blood tests to assess their body-mass
index (BMI, a measurement based on height and weight), metabolic
profile and level of inflammation.
After examining for certain signs of inflammation, the
investigators found that those who were not affected by metabolic
disorders had lower white blood cell counts and acute-phase
response proteins, which are usually elevated in response to
The study, published in the current issue of the
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, also
found those without any metabolic disorders had higher levels of
adiponectin, a hormone with anti-inflammatory properties. This was
true for both lean and obese people who were metabolically
"From a public health standpoint, we need better methods for identifying which obese people face the greatest risk of diabetes and heart disease," Phillips concluded. "Inflammatory markers offer a potential strategy for pinpointing people who could benefit most from medical interventions."
The American Diabetes Association has more about
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