Body shape is a clue to your risk of getting type 2 diabetes
People who carry fat around their abdomen run a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes , experts say.
Their findings come after comparing gene variants in people with abdominal fat with those who carry weight around their hips and thighs.
The team from Massachusetts General Hospital said: “We tested whether abdominal adiposity was associated with diabetes and the answer was a firm yes.”
The study suggests drugs that modify fat distribution could help prevent it, the journal JAMA reported.
Experts from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in the US found that having a genetic predisposition to “abdominal adiposity” – or an apple-shaped body – was associated with a higher risk for type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.
Their study, published in the journal JAMA, examined the pattern of gene variants associated to this body shape – in which weight is deposited around the abdomen, rather than in the hips and thighs.
Using data from a previous study that identified 48 gene variants associated with waist-to-hip ratio adjusted for body mass index – an established measure for abdominal adiposity – they developed a genetic risk score.
The experts then used this risk score against six previous genome studies and to individual data from the UK Biobank – assessing data on more than 400,000 people.
They found that having a genetic predisposition to abdominal adiposity is linked to significant increases in the incidence of type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease, along with increases in blood lipids, blood glucose and systolic blood pressure.
Senior report author Sekar Kathiresan, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the MGH Centre for Genomic Medicine, said: “People vary in their distribution of body fat – some put fat in their belly, which we call abdominal adiposity, and some in their hips and thighs.
“Abdominal adiposity has been correlated with cardiometabolic disease, but whether it actually has a role in causing those conditions was unknown.
“We tested whether genetic predisposition to abdominal adiposity was associated with the risk for type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease and found that the answer was a firm ‘yes’.”