Health Watch - The Science of Weight: 'Healthy' Obesity

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’ve been talking about the science behind why we gain or lose weight and what excess weight does to our bodies. Obesity is a health risk because of all the effects it has on the body — an increased risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease, among others. But what is it that makes excess fat cause these problems?

Dr. Philipp Scherer, a diabetes researcher at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says inflammation is a major cause of the metabolic disorders that affect people who are obese. When people consume more calories than they need, the excess energy is stored in fat cells. The fat cells are embedded in a kind of collagen matrix. As the fat cells grow larger, they’re restricted by the matrix, which becomes more rigid, and inflammation occurs. Understanding more about how this collagen matrix forms could help doctors fight the health risks of obesity.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in endocrinology.


October 2009

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