Does Skin Fat Protect From Diabetes?

Regular readers will be aware that there is a rather poor relationship between the total amount of body fat and health, which, indecently, is why I am not a big fan of the term ‘healthy weight’ and why we had to come up with the Edmonton Obesity Staging System.

In fact, we have known for a long time that it is visceral fat or the fat deposited ‘ectopically’ in organs like the liver, pancreas, heart, or skeletal muscle that tends to cause the cardiometabolic problems.

Indeed, there are good reasons to believe that the safest place to store any excess calories is in your subcutaneous or skin fat.

This notion is once again supported by new data by Smith and colleagues published in the latest issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, suggesting that skin fat may, at least in women, reduce the risk of developing diabetes.

Thus, data from the The INternational Study of Prediction of Intra-abdominal adiposity and its RElationships with cardioMEtabolic risk/Intra-Abdominal Adiposity (INSPIRE ME IAA), a cross-sectional computed tomography imaging study with data collected from 4144 (51.8% men) in 29 countries, shows that while cardiovascular disease increased with visceral adiposity tertles, diabetes risk was inversely related with subcutaneous adipose tissue in women [0.76] and not associated with type 2 diabetes in men [0.97].

Good enough to remind us that using rather crude measures of obesity like weight, BMI, or even total body fat, is certainly not enough to decide on who needs obesity treatment and who doesn’t.

Washington, DC

ResearchBlogging.orgSmith JD, Borel AL, Nazare JA, Haffner SM, Balkau B, Ross R, Massien C, Alméras N, & Després JP (2012). Visceral Adipose Tissue Indicates the Severity of Cardiometabolic Risk in Patients with and without Type 2 Diabetes: Results from the INSPIRE ME IAA Study. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism PMID: 22337910