f you are one of those who reluctantly forgoes sinful desserts and pepperoni pizza, because you think it goes straight to your posterior, stop right now. Indulge yourself to your heart’s content – well, within reason, anyway; and ignore those extra inches building up on your butt. It’s actually good for your health.
Research done by some eminent doctors has revealed that a type of fat that accumulates around the hips and bottom may actually offer some protection against diabetes. The medical term for fat that collects under the skin is subcutaneous fat. It seems likely that subcutaneous fat helps to improve sensitivity to the hormone insulin, which regulates blood sugar.
Clinical trials on mice, that got transplants of this type of fat deep into their abdomens, showed that they lost weight and their fat cells shrank, even though they made no changes in their diet or activity levels. I am aware that the physiology of mice is not the same as that of humans and, hence, the results cannot be described as conclusive. However, many clinical trials have been initially initiated on mice and later transited successfully to humans.
Ronald Kahn, of Harvard Medical School in Boston, and his colleagues carried out the study and published a paper in the journal Cell Metabolism. Kahn, however, has a word of caution for the obese majority in the US, who might start believing they are doing something right. He started the study to find out why fat located in different parts of the body seems to have different risks of metabolic disease such as diabetes.
It has been known for some time that fat which collects in the abdomen — known as visceral fat - can raise a person’s risk of diabetes and heart disease, while people with pear-shaped bodies, with fat deposits in the buttocks and hips, are less prone to these disorders.
The study shows that subcutaneous fat may be actively protecting people from metabolic disease. Kahn’s team’s experiments on mice, where they transplanted subcutaneous fat from donor mice into the bellies and under the skin of mice, showed that they started to slim down after several weeks. More importantly, they also showed improved blood sugar and insulin levels compared to mice that underwent a sham procedure.
I don’t think this study is going to make many folks go off their diets. Looking good, after all, usually trumps a few health risks. But if you are genetically prone to diabetes - or if you already have it - it’s something to think about.