Monday, 27 June 2011

Naturally Skinny People Not So Healthy After All!

Hardly a day goes by without the publishing of another set of statistics to cast doubt on previously held beliefs of what’s healthy or not. According to new research published today, slim people may be just as likely to suffer from heart disease or diabetes as those who are obese. While naturally skinny folk appear to have it easy when it comes to maintaining their weight, it seems their lack of fat doesn’t always mean they’re as healthy as one might think.

A team of researchers from the MRC Epidemiology Unit in Cambridge, compared the genetic codes of more than 75,000 people to look for the genes which determine body fat percentage. They found one particularly common gene called IRS1, which was strongly linked to having less body fat.

Those who have this gene tend to store less fat underneath their skin, giving them their slender appearance. However, it made no difference to the amount of visceral fat – the hidden fat which is stored around vital organs such as the heart. It is this fat which is particularly harmful to health and raises the risks of cardiovascular diseases.

This could explain the anomaly as to why some thin people, who seem to eat well and lead a healthy lifestyle, may also have higher than normal cholesterol or high blood pressure. Although one of the the main risks factors for cardiovascular disease is obesity, this research serves as a warning that even those who maintain a healthy lifestyle, should still obtain regular health checks, including blood pressure and cholesterol testing.

This research was published in the journal Nature Genetics.


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