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Obesity Risk – Fat causes Killer Inflammation Response in the Obese and Overweight

March 10th, 2006

Obesity Risk – Fat causes Killer Inflammation Response in the Obese and Overweight

Fat Cells

Multiple research studies are coming to the same conclusion that excess body fat causes an inflammation response in their body that can be deadly.

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 (WHR).

Why worry about the inflammation?  The inflammation is the trigger for the following conditions; thrombosis, heart disease, strokes and diabetes.


"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, Massachusetts.

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.

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Nicole Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:48 PM