Health Watch – Early Warning: Fat Storage

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications  and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about early warnings that could lead to earlier treatment and better outcomes. We’ve heard that obesity is a risk factor for heart disease and other illnesses, but doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center say that where and how you store the fat may be a better indication of your disease risk.

Dr. Roger Unger, a UT Southwestern diabetes expert, says it’s the spillover of fat into organs instead of fat cells that leads to organ damage. Overeating — taking in more calories than the body can use or store — is what makes fat spill over into organs. That leads to metabolic syndrome, which involves insulin resistance that can lead to diabetes, as well as cholesterol and triglyceride levels that can lead to heart disease. Overweight patients who have metabolic syndrome tend to have fat deposits in their liver, heart and pancreas. Being overweight or obese is an early sign of potential future risk.

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June 2008

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