A new study in mice indicates that overeating, rather than the 1) ___ it causes, is the trigger for developing metabolic syndrome, a collection of heath risk factors that increases an individual’s chances of developing insulin resistance, fatty liver, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. How and where the body stores excess, unused 2) ___ appears to matter most when determining a person’s risk of developing metabolic syndrome, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center suggest. Most people today think that obesity itself causes metabolic syndrome. We’re ingrained to think that obesity is the cause of all health problems, when in fact it is the spillover of fat into organs other than fat cells that damages these organs, such as the heart and the liver. Depositing fatty 3) ___ in fat cells where they belong, actually delays that harmful spillover. The study, is to be published in a future issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It is among the first to suggest that weight gain is an early symptom of pre-metabolic syndrome, rather than a direct 4) ___. Obesity delays the onset of metabolic syndrome, but it doesn’t prevent it. People who are obese or overweight are on the road to developing metabolic syndrome unless they stop overeating. Sooner or later, it will happen. Currently about 50 million Americans suffer from metabolic syndrome. The exact cause of metabolic syndrome is 5) ___, but obesity and lack of exercise have been considered to be the primary underlying contributors to its development. Several studies in Dallas have shown that overweight patients with metabolic syndrome have increased fat levels in their liver, heart and pancreas. Individuals with congenital generalized lipodystrophy — a genetic condition in which people are born with no fat cells in which to store fat — develop metabolic syndrome at an earlier age than people who are obese. They also develop more severe cases of 6) ___ syndrome earlier than their obese counterparts. The goal of this study was to determine whether an individual’s capacity to store fat in fat cells plays a role in whether they develop metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes and at what point that occurs. For the study, the researchers compared mice genetically altered to prevent their fat cells from expanding when overfed to mice with no such protections against becoming obese. The normal mice got fat when overfed, but didn’t develop signs of metabolic syndrome until about 7 weeks into the experiment, at about 12 weeks of age. The mice engineered to remain slim, however, enjoyed no such pre-diabetic honeymoon period. Some became seriously ill at 4 to 5 weeks of age and displayed evidence of severe heart problems and marked hyperglycemia by 10 weeks of age, a full 8 weeks before the normal mice displayed even minimal heart problems. The genetically altered mice also suffered devastating damage to heart cells and to the insulin-secreting cells in their pancreas. Mice engineered to stay slim got sick quicker because the extra calories were not stored in the 7) ___ cells, the one place in the body equipped to store fat. Instead, fat was stored in other tissues, mimicking what happens in people with congenital generalized lipodystrophy. Recognition of this should encourage physicians and obese patients to pursue more aggressive interventions before they develop metabolic 8) ___, rather than after the onset of disease, as is customary. Mice genetically engineered to be obese are at no more risk of developing metabolic syndrome than normal mice. It’s not the amount of body fat, but where it is stored in the body that appears to matter most to health. It’s better to put surplus calories in fat cells than in the rest of the body because fat cells are designed specifically for fat storage. You won’t be as trim, but you’ll be 9) ___.The study results also imply that any gene that impairs the ability to store fat in the fat cells likely predisposes an individual to metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

ANSWERS: 1) obesity; 2) calories; 3) molecules; 4) cause; 5) unknown; 6) metabolic; 7) fat; 8) syndrome; 9) healthier

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