Sunday, May 11, 2008

Good fat, bad fat...

New Scientist reports: [edited]

Not all body fat is bad. Your body may store 'good' fat and 'bad' fat, similar to good and bad cholesterol.

Researchers know that not all body fat is equal. The worst kind is excess fat on the internal organs, which causes a pot belly and is known as visceral fat. People with this are more likely to suffer from heart disease and insulin resistance, which leads to type 2 diabetes, than those who put on fat under their skin on their hips and thighs. But it was assumed that such subcutaneous fat was merely the lesser of two evils.

Now it looks like it could be positively beneficial. C. Ronald Kahn and colleagues at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston transplanted subcutaneous fat into the bodies of some mice and visceral fat into others. They found the mice that had received subcutaneous fat ended up with lighter, leaner bodies and less insulin resistance than the animals that got visceral fat and, crucially, those that received no fat transplant at all.

If subcutaneous fat also has benefits in humans, the results could explain why liposuction, which removes this fat, does not reduce diabetes or other side effects of obesity.

Image courtesy of Worth1000.

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