News ID: 219316
Published: 0949 GMT August 04, 2018

Researchers discover why obesity causes disease

Researchers discover why obesity causes disease

Researchers at the University of Virginia are now able to explain why obesity causes harmful inflammation, which often leads to diabetes, clogged arteries and other health problems.

Their findings may eventually lead to a medical treatment for the inflammation, which so often causes other health problems for obese Americans, wrote.

The research team found that unstable and damaging atoms called free radicals — produced naturally by our bodies — attack substances known as lipids inside the fat tissue, causing swelling.

“Now, knowing that some of these molecules are really bad guys, so to speak, eliminating them from the circulation may have a very beneficial effect on chronic diseases,” said Norbert Leitinger, PhD, in the university’s Department of Pharmacology.

Obesity is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 percent or higher.

In Virginia, 28 percent of the total population is obese, according to the 2018 County Health Rankings. The state is 29th in the nation for adult obesity.

In 1990, adult obesity in Virginia stood at just 11.3 percent.

In the three Historic Triangle localities, more than a quarter of the adult population is obese according to the 2017 County Health Rankings. York County’s adult obesity rate nearly matches Virginia overall rate at 27 percent.

The numbers are not much lower in Williamsburg and James City County, where 26 percent of adults are obese.

When measuring the percentage of adults who are overweight (including those who are obese), Williamsburg and James City County match the Virginia average at 62 percent, according to 2013 data from the Greater Hampton Roads Community Indicator. York County comes in at 60 percent.

Identifying the cause of disease associated with obesity may allow for the development of a drug or treatment to combat the inflammation caused by the free radicals and lipids — a process termed lipid oxidation.

“All of these diseases have a common denominator,” said researcher Vlad Serbulea, PhD, with the UVA School of Medicine.

“It may well be that we’ve identified what starts off the whole cascade of inflammation and metabolic changes.”

In addition to type 2 diabetes, being overweight or obese increases the risk of things like high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, breathing problems and breast, prostate and colon cancers.


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