A new study has revealed that obese people with excess visceral fat (abdominal fat that surrounds the body's internal organs) have an increased risk for the development of Type 2 diabetes.
According to the study by researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center, persons with excess abdominal subcutaneous fat (fat underneath the skin) were not at higher risk for the onset of diabetes.
The study is one of the largest of its kind to assess a multiethnic population of obese people in the US, using extensive imaging of adipose tissue.
"Among obese individuals, it is not necessarily how much fat a person has, but rather where the fat is located on a person that leads to diabetes," the paper's senior author, Dr. James de Lemos, professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern, said.
Using imaging methods to determine the location and function of body fat, researchers are able to identify obese persons who are at a higher risk for developing Type 2 diabetes years before the disease appears.
"Understanding the biological differences between visceral fat and subcutaneous fat may help doctors to more effectively battle the obesity epidemic occurring in the United States," Dr. de Lemos said.
"The risk for diabetes varies widely among different obese individuals, and this study suggests that by predicting who will get diabetes, it may be possible to target intensive lifestyle, medical, and surgical therapies for those at a higher risk," he said.
The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.