Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A slim chance

Insulin’s role in obesity

ONE of the horrors of obesity is that once it takes hold it is fiendishly difficult to reverse. The overweight often find it impossible to avoid eating to excess, and so the kilos continue to pile on. Judgmental observers of this pattern might simply blame lack of willpower—and it is certainly true that willpower in prodigious quantities is needed to climb back up the slope to svelteness. But understanding why that slope is so slippery might help the sinner who wishes to repent, and such understanding may have come a little closer this week with the publication in Cell Metabolism of a study by Jens Brüning, of the Max Planck Institute for Neurological Research in Cologne, and his colleagues.

Obesity is one manifestation of a group of symptoms known as metabolic syndrome. Another symptom is late-onset diabetes. Unlike its cousin early-onset diabetes, which is caused by a lack of insulin, the late-onset variety results from resistance, in those cells that should react to the hormone, to insulin that is in fact available. This has all sorts of bad effects, since insulin regulates the absorption and release of sugar and, though late-onset diabetes is not quite the killer that the early-onset variety is, the result is still pretty nasty.


For a detailed analysis of insulin’s role in obesity, read: Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It

Related previous posts:

The Farnam Street Blog Reviews “Why We Get Fat” by Gary Taubes

Is Sugar Toxic? - By Gary Taubes

Gary Taubes Talk on Why We Get Fat

Gary Taubes Interview with Jimmy Moore

The Scientist and the Stairmaster