Scientists find different types of obesity, confirming that a high BMI doesn't always signal health risks

Scientists find different types of obesity, confirming that a high BMI doesn’t always signal health risks

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  • According to a new study published in Natural metabolismObesity isn’t just a matter of weight for height or body mass index (BMI) – there are actually at least four metabolic body types.

  • The research also found that those who fall into the BMI category of overweight or obese are not destined to develop diseases previously thought to be directly related to weight.

For decades, a calculation, body mass index (BMI) has been used to determine if someone is overweight or obese. BMI compares weight to height and when this number is high, doctors will likely tell patients that they are at risk for health problems and therefore need to lose weight.

However, it turns out that this equation is not a reliable marker of health outcomes. Some people who fall into the “obese” category, based on BMI, may never be diagnosed with a disease, while others in the “normal” BMI range may have a genetic predisposition to heart disease and heart disease. other illnesses, regardless of their weight.

“It has long been clear to us that there are at least three types of people when it comes to obesity: those who are healthy and obese, those who are obese and have comorbidities, such as diabetes or heart disease , and those who are obese and on the verge of developing comorbidities,” said Andrew Pospisilik, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Epigenetics and founding member of the Metabolic and Nutritional Programming Group at the Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids, Mich. Ride a bike. “We wanted to see if we could start to identify the genetic variations in these different ‘types’ of obesity.”

To examine types of obesity, Pospisilik and his team studied twins and how their weights varied over the years. Then they tried to mimic their findings in mice.

“Using a purely data-driven approach, we have seen for the first time that there are at least two different metabolic subtypes of obesity, each with their own physiological and molecular characteristics that influence health,” said Pospisilik. “Our findings in the lab have almost carbon copied the data from human twins. We again saw two distinct subtypes of obesity.

Until now, scientists put people into one of three metabolic types: endomorph (easily stores fat), mesomorph (easily gains muscle) and ectomorph (thin, has trouble gaining fat or muscle ). However, recent findings published this month in Natural metabolismdivides people into four metabolic subtypes (two lean-prone and two obese-prone) that could one day help doctors provide more accurate patient care and inform more accurate ways to diagnose and treat obesity and associated metabolic disorders, explained Pospisilik.

The team also found that of the two obesity-prone metabolic subtypes, one was associated with increased inflammation, which may increase the risk of certain cancers and other diseases, while the other was not. was not. It also appeared that some genes responded to certain triggers, such as lifestyle choices or specific foods, leading to weight gain and susceptibility to disease, while others did not.

The science that studies how genes are affected by behavior and the environment is called epigenetics. Pospisilik, an epigeneticist, doesn’t study, for example, what foods or lifestyle choices can alter a person’s weight, but rather looks for genetic predispositions that coordinate with weight and how that may play into disease.

Unlike genetic alterations, epigenetic modifications are reversible and do not modify the DNA sequence. “I like to tell people that all bees are born with the same DNA, but some bees become workers and some become queens. Ultimately, all queen bees are genetically like other queen bees. How is it going ? Epigenetics is the process that can guide the same bee DNA to become a queen or a worker, but nothing in between,” Pospisilak said.

Pospisilak and his team found that this same idea applies to humans, their weight and their health. While one person is more prone to building muscle, another may be more prone to gaining weight, and their diets may be very similar.

“Between twin studies and mouse studies, we can really show how each individual can have multiple genetically pre-programmed pathways, with lifelong consequences,” Pospisilak explained.

Ultimately, the new research confirms that there’s more to health and fitness than the number on the scale or on a BMI chart.

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