Adiponectin, a protein associated with low rates of diabetes and metabolic syndrome, found to be higher in certain body types

A team of metabolic researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) investigated ADPN levels in both obese and non-obese participants with upper body and lower body fat concentrations.

The research findings are published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Srividya Kidambi, MD, MS, assistant professor of medicine in the division of endocrinology, metabolism and clinical nutrition at MCW, led the study.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one out of three people in the U.S. will develop Type 2 diabetes during their lifetime. Type 2 diabetes, formerly known as adult onset diabetes, is a mostly preventable form of diabetes characterized by insulin resistance. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of diseases which includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, excess abdominal body fat and abnormal lipid levels. Individuals exhibiting a combination of three or more of these symptoms are said to have metabolic syndrome, and are at higher risk for developing cardiovascular problems. According to the American Heart Association, metabolic syndrome affects 34 percent of adults in the U.S.

Dr. Kidambi and her research team investigated the effect of fat distribution and ADPN levels on metabolic health in approximately 2500 individuals affiliated with ‘TOPS®’ weight loss club. During the study, participants with fat distributed in the upper portion of the body were found to have lower levels of ADPN. Consequently, this resulted in a higher risk for diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Conversely, participants with fat distribution concentrated in the lower half of the body showed higher levels of ADPN, corresponding to a lower risk for developing a metabolic issue.

The results of this study allow a better understanding as to why fat concentrated in the lower half of the body is often healthier than upper body fat distribution; a finding previously scientifically corroborated. The new research has determined that fat concentrated in the lower half of the body is associated with higher levels of protective hormone ADPN than fat distributed in the upper portion of the body. This higher level of ADPN relates to a lower risk for developing metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and abnormal lipid levels. Authors hope that findings from this study will incite more research into protective effects of certain types of body fat, which in turn can add to our understanding of obesity and development of new therapies to address metabolic issues.

This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (DK071895-03 and DK65598-01) and Take Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS) Club, Inc.

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