According to new research undertaken by The Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit in Cambridge, having less body fat does not make you immune to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. This is according to results from research carried out on more than 75,000 people.
Although the MRC Epidemiology Unit has in the past done genetic research, they approached their study from a different perspective this time. For approximately four years they have been looking for genes that are linked to being overweight or obese. In the past, the genes associated with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes was linked to an increased body weight. The new research was done differently in that it looked at body fat percentage rather than body weight.
The gene which was discovered is called IRS1 and is linked to having low body fat. Researchers found that this gene is linked to dangerous levels of glucose and cholesterol in blood. This would increase the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes in persons who have this gene.
The research indicated that although slim people appear to be healthy, they may be storing fat somewhere in their body. In most cases the fat is not stored under the skin, but around muscle and organs. This accumulation, called visceral fat, hinders the body’s normal function.
The head of the research team, Dr Ruth Loos stated that these findings will not change the general message that lean people are normally healthier than people who are overweight or obese. However, it will explain why lean people suffer with high cholesterol and have heart attacks, often at a young age.
Professor Jeremy Pearson from the British Heart Foundation states that this research reinforces the idea that where you lay down fat is important in ascertaining your risk of heart disease. He maintains that fat which is stored internally is worse for your health than fat stored under your skin. He has stressed that being overweight and obese is bad for your cardiovascular health, and individuals should aim to stay fit and slim.