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Medical News & Perspectives
September 19, 2012

Studies Probe Mechanisms That Have a Role in Obesity-Associated Morbidities

JAMA. 2012;308(11):1077-1079. doi:10.1001/2012.jama.11024

In the last half century, what was once an evolutionary advantage—being able to quickly store excess calories—and a sedentary lifestyle have contributed to an epidemic of obesity. Along with this increase in the number of obese individuals has come an increase in metabolic syndrome, characterized by insulin resistance, high blood cholesterol levels, and hypertension, elements that raise the risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Although researchers have yet to discover a unifying pathological mechanism underlying the development of metabolic syndrome, they have learned much about how excess adiposity can perturb normal metabolic functions. In particular, the relationship between obesity and chronic low-grade inflammation in various tissues of the body, such as adipose tissue, has been the subject of intense research.