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Obesity's Link to Type 2 Diabetes Not So Clear-Cut

Most participants developed condition after being overweight for years, not after large recent gain

continued...

The researchers also looked at other health factors, such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and found differences between the groups, but none to clearly define who might develop type 2 diabetes and who might not.

"This study shows us again that diabetes and obesity are very complex, and the development of type 2 diabetes is not as simple as we think. Not all patients with diabetes are obese, and not all obese are diabetics," said Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of the clinical diabetes center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.

Zonszein said that there are genetic factors involved in the development of type 2 diabetes, and the type of fat someone has matters, too. People who have less brown fat (considered a good type of fat) and carry more weight around the middle are generally more likely to get type 2 diabetes, according to Zonszein.

But, he added that the exact trigger for the development of type 2 is still "the six-million-dollar question. We can't point to exactly what causes type 2, but we do know that it's not good to become obese," he said.

Dr. Spyros Mezitis, an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, also pointed out that a combination of factors lead to the development of the condition. "But we do know that excess weight is related to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes," he said.

Mezitis said the new findings need to be confirmed in other studies, and that additional studies need to look at a more diverse population.

In the meantime, he added, "We can tell the population to start making small changes in their diet. That may be easier to maintain. And, even a small amount of weight loss helps reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. A weight loss of 10 percent of your body weight significantly reduces your risk of diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease."

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