Does deep body fat hold the key to diabetes type II?

by Mark Benson on October 2, 2012

Does deep body fat hold the key to diabetes type II?

There have been a number of interesting research programmes into diabetes type II but one which was recently published in the American Medical Association Journal has certainly caught the eye of diabetics. It centred upon the suspicion that it is not the amount of body fat which holds the key to the risk of developing diabetes type II but the type of fat. So what did the research programme discover?

Dallas Heart Study

The research programme centred round a Dallas Heart Study which involved 6000 participants to assess their risk of developing type II diabetes. The idea was the 6000 participants perfectly replicated the ethnic mix of the US population and would therefore give an accurate result with regards to multicultural risks to diabetes and other factors.

Base data

The base data used for the research programme involved some of the latest technology which allowed researchers to identify the specific types of body fat present in each individual and where this fat was located. They also took into account data such as insulin resistance, blood sugar levels, BMI and cholesterol levels. Interestingly, it seems that the percentage of body fat associated with each individual had no direct influence upon their potential to develop diabetes in the future.

Abdomen fat

It is becoming more and more evident that abdomen fat, and other fat around this particular organ, is the most dangerous type of body fat when looking at the chances of developing type II diabetes in the future. This is not a surprise to many scientists as more and more research programmes are identifying this particular type of body fat as being the highest risk. This most recent research programme has prompted a number of other questions which will also be considered in future research programmes and it will be interesting to see whether abdomen fat and so-called “deep body fat” is one of the largest factors associated with type II diabetes.

Lower body fat

We must not mistake deep body fat for lower body fat because some research notes in the past have stated that lower body fat, especially in women, had been found to offer some kind of protection against heart disease and diabetes in some people. Quite why this occurs is still something of a mystery but it is becoming more and more evident that the location of your body fat and the type of body fat can have a material impact upon your chances of developing type II diabetes especially.

Targeting those at risk

Using the initial data from the research programme it became very clear that those who developed type II diabetes in the future already had a significant amount of “deep body fat” prior to the condition materialising. Indeed there were a number of instances whereby individuals could in hindsight have been diagnosed with type II diabetes many years before the condition actually became evident by modern diagnosis techniques.

The idea now is that more research will be done into “deep body fat” and the hope is that scientists will be able to identify those at greatest risk. This will allow lifestyle changes to the advised many years in advance of diabetes type II actually emerging with the hope of averting a full-blown diabetes type II episode. There are also other options available to doctors if a lifestyle change may not impact quickly enough on the individual’s health and risk of developing the condition. These include: –

Weight loss supplements

While some weight loss supplements can be relatively ineffective there are a number of weight loss supplements which are regularly prescribed by doctors. These may well give individuals sufficient assistance with reducing their deep body fat and therefore in reducing their chances of developing full-blown diabetes type II.

Clinical procedures

While many doctors would be reluctant to advise clinical procedures for all but the worst cases of obesity the fact is that if deep body fat can be removed relatively quickly then this would reduce the risk of developing diabetes in the future. There are obviously specific risks associated with any clinical procedures and this is no different with weight loss procedures which can be complicated and lead to further complications in the future.

Should we be focusing on deep body fat?

If you ask the vast majority of individuals who have any knowledge of diabetes they will probably place obesity as the number-one risk factor. In general terms this is correct but it is emerging that deep body fat offers the greatest risk of developing the condition and not just the overall percentage of fat within an individual’s body. Lifestyle changes, drug treatments and clinical procedures can all assist in reducing the level of deep body fat and this is something which doctors will now be looking at in greater detail.

There is still much work to be done with regards to the direct link between diabetes type II and body fat but the specifics of this very dangerous condition are being laid bare by various research programmes. It would be wrong to suggest that all of the hard work has been done with regards to research into diabetes but it would also be wrong to suggest that no progress has been made of late. Quite where this will lead researchers in the short to medium term remains to be seen although it is highly likely we will see a focus upon reducing deep body fat, via existing and future clinical methods, as a means of containing the potential diabetes type II epidemic.


Many scientists have considered the link between diabetes type II and the various types of fat in the body, specifically deep body fat. This particular type of fat is often located in the abdomen and seems to offer a greater degree of risk of developing the full-blown condition. It was interesting to see that there was no direct link, in this particular program, between overall body mass index and the risk of developing diabetes. There appears to be a specific between the levels of the deep body fat as opposed to “general body fat” which is located just under the skin.

Is this the big breakthrough scientists have been waiting for?

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Guest October 3, 2012 at 5:28 am

I suspect that such individuals will immediately be put on a 'healthy' diet of low fat/high carb which will ensure their steady progression into type 2 diabetes. I wonder if the doctors even realise that there may be deep body fat because the person is already elevating their Blood Glucose levels and therefore already storing fat.

Wait and see…..


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