Healthy weight gain? Genes that increase the risk of obesity may protect as many as 45% of overweight people from heart disease

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Credit: Elena Hartley
Credit: Elena Hartley

People living with obesity tend to have unhealthy glucose and lipid levels in their blood, as well as high blood pressure. As a result, they are more at risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. But scientists have observed that up to 45% of people living with obesity have healthy blood pressure and glucose and lipid levels, and therefore may not be at high risk of disease. The reason why this group of people with obesity remain healthy, has been poorly understood.

But now a team of researchers—led by scientists at the University of Copenhagen and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York—have identified a range of genes that are linked to both elevated levels of body fat, as well as offering protection from some of the negative health impacts of obesity. The results were published in the journal Nature Metabolism.

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According to Professor Ruth Loos from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, this new knowledge is a step toward a more nuanced approach to treating obesity.

“Clearly, obesity is a complex disease and not every individual with excess body weight is equally at risk of developing cardiometabolic diseases. Knowing which genes protect people from developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease will eventually help us better diagnose and treat individuals with obesity.”

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