Having too much fat around your waist puts you at a higher risk of inflammation

Obesity has no benefits, that much is a given. How much it affects the body, however, is a topic that is still ripe for research. In a study published in the journal Nutrition Research, a team led by the University of Connecticut reports that certain markers for measuring obesity can also be used to determine a person’s risk for chronic inflammation. In particular, researchers believe that an obese person’s waist size can offer clues not only on whether he has the condition but also on what complications are more likely to affect him in the near future. The study focused on associating biomarkers for metabolic syndrome with that of inflammation and macronutrient intake.

Metabolic syndrome refers to a set of conditions that increase a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. For a person to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, the National Institutes of Health says that he must have at least three of the following risk factors:

  • Excess body fat around the waist – This condition, also called abdominal obesity, is marked by having an “apple-shaped” body. People who are at risk of metabolic syndrome have a waist circumference greater than 40 inches for men, and greater than 35 inches for women.
  • A high triglyceride level – Triglycerides are lipids that come from excess calories that the body doesn’t use after eating. These are stored in the fat cells and later used for energy. If a person eats more calories than he is able to burn, this could lead to elevated levels of triglycerides, which can lead to a hardening of the arterial wall. This condition is called atherosclerosis, which significantly increases a person’s likelihood for cardiovascular diseases. When triglyceride levels are extremely high, this can cause pancreatitis or the inflammation of the pancreas.
  • Reduced HDL cholesterol – HDL (high-density lipoprotein), isn’t called the “good” cholesterol for nothing: It helps remove excess cholesterol from the arteries. This prevents cholesterol from piling up and narrowing the arteries. If a person has low HDL levels (less than 40 milligrams per deciliter for men and 50 mg/dL for women, according to the American Heart Association), he is more likely to suffer from heart disease.
  • High blood pressure – Having high blood pressure – or hypertension – already increases a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease; however, if this occurs with other factors, it could mean something more sinister. According to the AHA, a systolic blood pressure that exceeds 130 mm of mercury and a systolic blood pressure of more than 85 mm Hg is a risk factor for metabolic disorder.
  • Increased blood sugar – It’s also worth noting that high levels of blood sugar can ultimately lead to diabetes.

Earlier studies have already linked inflammation to obesity. A study in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism found that obesity can cause cells to become pro-inflammatory, starting from metabolic cells down to immune cells. This could result in hypertension, insulin resistance, and diabetes, among others. For the current study, the team investigated between biomarkers for inflammation and obesity, looking at tangible associations between the two conditions.

Researchers involved 89 women, aged 25–72, who had all been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome at the time of the study. The tests were designed to measure waist circumference, total carbohydrate intake, and inflammation biomarkers. They found that waist circumference is proportionate to triglyceride levels, that is, those with a bigger waist size also had higher triglyceride levels. In addition, they found that blood sugar levels widely vary between participants with insulin resistance, which puts them at risk of diabetes. Inflammation markers were also above normal, which indicates a connection between these factors. Regarding their diet, the team noted that the women had consumed a lot of foods with added sugars, but not a lot of dietary fiber.

“These results are consistent with central obesity being a key marker of the inflammatory state, and they also suggest that carbohydrates, particularly those that are digested rapidly, contribute to increased risk of central obesity and development of [metabolic syndrome],” the team concluded.

Learn about the other factors that contribute to inflammation and increase your risk of diabetes at DiabetesCure.news.

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