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Larger Fat Cells Found in Obese Kids

A correlation may exist between larger fat cells and diabetes….

Antje Korner, MD, from the Pediatric Research Center in Leipzig, Germany found that obese children with enlarged fat cells were also more likely to have insulin resistance. 

Researchers conducted a study on the relationship between adipose tissue biology and metabolic markers using data from obese and lean pediatric patients. Fat tissue and blood samplings were obtained from 106 normal, healthy children and 65 obese children. The average age of normal and obese patients was around 7.6 years and 11.4 years respectively. The research found that obese children had 17% larger fat tissue samples and a 2-fold higher amount of fats when compared to normal children. They also identified a greater presence of macrophages, as much as twice the normal amount indicating inflammation around dead or dying fat cells. This increased inflammation may be linked to impaired metabolic functions as seen in diabetics.

As the prevalence of childhood obesity rises, so does the risk of developing diabetes in the long run. Changes in the fat cells in childhood may be detrimental to the body’s metabolic function. More long-term studies need to be conducted to determine whether obese children would develop diabetes due to a negative change in fat cells early on in their lives.

Practice Pearls:
  • The research found that obese children had 17% larger fat tissue samples and 2-fold higher amount of fats when compared to normal children.
  • A greater presence of macrophages may be linked to impaired metabolic functions as seen in diabetics.
  • More long-term studies need to be conducted to determine whether obese children would develop diabetes due to a negative change in fat cells early on in life.

Korner A. Abstract 159-OR. American Diabetes Association 2014 Scientific Sessions; 2014 June 15.