Belly fat has the potential to affect liver function leading to insulin resistance, which is a strong risk factor for type 2 diabetes, a new study has found.
The team at the University of Southern California (USC) found that the release of lipids from abdominal fat, which drains directly to the liver, increases overnight, providing additional insight as to how abdominal fat is associated with type 2 diabetes risk.
"It has been shown that people who store body fat in their abdomens are at greater risk to develop diabetes and other chronic illnesses, but why this happens has remained unclear," says Lisa Nicole Harrison, B.S., Master's candidate, at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and lead author on the study.
"Our study found lipid release from abdominal fat was substantially elevated during the night, which may be a primary mechanism leading to insulin resistance, a strong risk factor for type 2 diabetes."
The observed lipids drain directly to the liver, a key center of glucose and insulin metabolism, where they may accumulate as triglyceride and cause dysregulation of these important metabolic processes, Harrison says.
The results highlight the importance of abdominal obesity in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes.
"Further studies in this area should look at the cause of overnight elevation of abdominal fat release as well as clarifying the role this plays in the development of obesity and insulin resistance," suggests Harrison.
The results of the study were presented at an oral session Monday, June 9 at the American Diabetes Association 68th Scientific Sessions held in San Francisco.