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'Bad' fat boost for treatment of obesity

CATRIONA WEBSTER

Published 10/03/2014

The scourge of obesity
The scourge of obesity

SCIENTISTS who have traced the origins of so-called "bad" fat in the body say the discovery could help to understand and treat obesity.

A team from the Medical Research Council's (MRC) human genetics unit at Edinburgh University discovered that visceral fat – which forms around vital organs such as the heart and intestines – originates in the embryo.

Although all fat carries health risks, hidden visceral fat is said to be a much bigger threat than subcutaneous fat, which sits under the skin.

It can increase the risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer's disease.

In contrast, subcutaneous fat – "good" fat – can be beneficial because it provides energy, cushioning and insulation.

Professor Stephen Hill, of the MRC's molecular and cellular medicine board, said: "Visceral fat can be a silent killer because it's possible to have a lot of it without looking fat on the outside."

The study is published in the journal Nature Cell Biology.

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