When Fat Makes You Healthy: Subcutaneous Fat May Produce Beneficial Hormones

Scientists were surprised to discover that some kinds of fat might actually be beneficial. They knew that belly fat was exerting negative effects, but were amazed to find that fat under the skin was producing a good effect.

May 22, 2008

It has long been known that type 2 diabetes is linked to obesity, particularly fat inside the belly. Now, researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center have found that fat from other areas of the body can actually reduce insulin resistance and improve insulin sensitivity.

In a study published in the May issue of Cell Metabolism, a team lead by C. Ronald Kahn, M.D., found that subcutaneous fat—fat  below the skin (usually in the hips and thighs)—is associated with reduced insulin levels and improved insulin sensitivity.

Kahn says that fat in the belly increases the risk of diabetes and mortality and it has been suggested that obesity in subcutaneous areas, often the hips and thighs, might decrease such risks.

His study concludes that fat under the skin is intrinsically different from visceral fat (belly fat or fat packed in between organs) and may produce substances that can improve glucose metabolism.

“The surprising thing was that it wasn’t where the fat was located,” Kahn said. “It was the kind of fat that was the most important variable. Even more surprising, it wasn’t that belly fat was exerting negative effects, but that fat under the skin was producing a good effect. Animals with more of this kind of fat didn’t gain as much weight as they aged, had better insulin sensitivity, lower insulin levels, and were improved all around.”

In addition, Kahn noted that a class of diabetes drugs called thiazoladinediones (ACTOS, Avandia) may cause patients to gain weight in the subcutaneous area, yet also improve insulin sensitivity.

Kahn said it is possible that fat underneath the skin may be producing certain hormones, known as adipokines, that produce beneficial effects on metabolism. These effects may offset the negative effects produced by belly fat.

Source: Joslin Diabetes Center

Click Here To View Or Post Comments

Categories: Diabetes, Diabetes, Insulin, Type 2 Issues, Type 2 Medications

Take the Diabetes Health Pump Survey
See What's Inside
Read this FREE issue now
For healthcare professionals only

You can view the current or previous issues of Diabetes Health online, in their entirety, anytime you want.
Click Here To View

See if you qualify for our free healthcare professional magazines. Click here to start your application for Pre-Diabetes Health, Diabetes Health Pharmacist and Diabetes Health Professional.

Learn More About the Professional Subscription

Free Diabetes Health e-Newsletter

Top Rated
Print | Email | Share | Comments (0)

You May Also Be Interested In...


Add your comments about this article below. You can add comments as a registered user or anonymously. If you choose to post anonymously your comments will be sent to our moderator for approval before they appear on this page. If you choose to post as a registered user your comments will appear instantly.

When voicing your views via the comment feature, please respect the Diabetes Health community by refraining from comments that could be considered offensive to other people. Diabetes Health reserves the right to remove comments when necessary to maintain the cordial voice of the diabetes community.

For your privacy and protection, we ask that you do not include personal details such as address or telephone number in any comments posted.

Don't have your Diabetes Health Username? Register now and add your comments to all our content.

Have Your Say...

Username: Password:
©1991-2014 Diabetes Health | Home | Privacy | Press | Advertising | Help | Contact Us | Donate | Sitemap

Diabetes Health Medical Disclaimer

The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained on or available through this website is for general information purposes only. Opinions expressed here are the opinions of writers, contributors, and commentators, and are not necessarily those of Diabetes Health. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website.