Obesity Risk –
Fat causes Killer Inflammation Response in the Obese and Overweight
March 10th, 2006
Multiple research studies are coming to the same conclusion that excess
body fat causes an inflammation response in their body that can be
A recent report in the International Journal of Obesity by researchers
from the University of Warwick Medical School found that the biggest
health risk to overweight and obese people is the killer inflammation
response created from the excess body fat.
Professor F.P. Cappuccio and Dr. M.A. Miller looked at 3 different
ethnic groups that were overweight or obese. They measured the Body
Mass Index (BMI) and the participant’s Waist-Hip Ratio (WHR) to
determine the amount of body fat a person was carrying.
The researchers also measured the levels of sE-selectin which is an
indicator of inflammation in the artery vessel walls. What they found
is that those that had the body fat around the waist were more
affected. However there was an increase overall for every 2% increase
in sE-selectin there was a relationship of 1 unit in increase in the
Body Mass Index (BMI) and a .01 unit in increase in the Waist-Hip Ratio
Why worry about the inflammation? The inflammation is the trigger for
the following conditions; thrombosis, heart disease, strokes and
"This study highlights the importance of the activation of the
endothelium, the inner layer of the artery vessel wall, in the metabolic
processes leading to obesity and cardiovascular disease," said Dr.
Miller and Professor Cappuccio in a statement. "This observation opens
opportunities to develop new treatments that deal directly with
inflammation either through diet or drugs".
Another recent research study first reported in the March 2006 issue of
Agricultural Research magazine further go onto explain how the fat
triggers the inflammation response.
Macrophages are part of the immune system and are found various parts of
your body. The scientists also have found macrophages in adipose which
is fat tissue. Macrophages are an important part of the immune system
as they circulate throughout the body to remove bacteria, foreign
invaders, and cellular debris.
Previously it was thought that macrophages in fat tissue were not
important. Andrew Greenberg and Martin Obin along with colleagues from
Italy and Canada looked into why the immune system was part of the
body’s fat tissue. Greenberg and Obin are scientists from the Obesity
and Metabolism Laboratory, which Greenberg heads, at the Jean Mayer USDA
Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston,
Scientists now are looking at fat as an organ. They found that the fat
cells “adipocytes” have several jobs. Adipocytes release vital
energy-producing fatty acids and also store the fatty acids for later
use. It is also responsible for releasing hormones that help to
regulate body weight. Scientists have learned that for the overweight
and the obese they are also releasing inflammatory chemicals.
There is a limit to the size that a fat cell can swell up to. The
lipids enter the fat cells which is why a person gains body fat weight.
Greenberg along with his colleagues discovered that when the fat cells
reach their maximum capacity they in time will break down and die. When
there is obesity there will be new fat cells that will start to form to
store the excess fat, and the cell death cycle continues when the cell
has reached its maximum storage capacity.
Greenberg also noticed that 90 percent of the macrophages found in the
adipose tissue around dead fat cells in both obese mice and humans. The
more the fat cells are filled up the more incidences of macrophages
occur in the fat tissue.
Recent research conducted by other scientists found that the macrophages
are the cause for the release of inflammatory molecules. At this time
they do not know why the macrophages cause the inflammation.
Greenberg thinks that possibly the immune cells are trying to clean up
the dead fat cells. When the macrophages do this clean up it might
cause the release of the inflammatory chemicals.
“When fat cells die, macrophages surround the dead lipids the same way
white cells surround a wooden splinter in your skin,” Greenberg said.
“The immune system is essentially surrounding and sequestering the dead
fat cells and gorging on the leftover lipids and cellular debris.”
There are many health problems caused by this inflammation process.
According to this Greenberg study it can promote arthritis, insulin
resistance, diabetes, and heart disease.
By controlling the amount of fat storage in your body you will improve
and prevent many diseases. Eating less and having healthy food choices
along with exercise on a regular basis are still the best ways to treat
obesity. When this fails obese patients may be driven to have gastric
bypass surgery to reduce their weight.