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‘Lean gene’ increases risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease

Having a leaner body may not lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease according to findings of a Medical Research Council study.

By examining data of over 75,000 people to look for the genes that determine body fat percentage, researchers found evidence that the gene IRS1 is linked with having less body fat. On further investigation, they found that this gene also leads to having unhealthy levels of cholesterol and glucose in the blood.

Why is the 'lean gene' linked with diabetes?

To understand why a gene linked with being lean carried an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, the scientists looked at body fat distribution in people with the gene. They found that the gene lowers only the fat under the skin, but not the more harmful fat surrounding the organs.

"People who appear slim shouldn't be complacent about health"

Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Diabetes UK, said: “This is a robust study, which with further investigation could shed light on why 20 per cent of people with Type 2 diabetes have the condition despite being a healthy weight.

"It is also a clear message that people who appear slim shouldn’t be complacent about their health.

How to reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes

“Eating well and being more active are the most effective ways of reducing the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.”

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