Good Genes Can Protect Obese People From Some Diseases

Medscape Staff

January 27, 2022

While obesity often puts people at risk for numerous diseases, such as heart disease or diabetes, geneticists from the University of Exeter say the overriding predictor of whether someone will develop these issues is their genes.

What to know:

  • Where you store your body fat is dependent on your genetics, and geneticists say that determines why some obese people seem to be able to stay relatively healthy while others seem to be more vulnerable.

  • Two people with the same body mass index can have very different amounts of fat as well as fat distribution throughout their body based on their genetics.

  • Fat stored under the skin, like a paunch or a double chin, is considered less harmful than fat stored around organs such as the liver, pancreas, and heart.

  • Of the 37 diseases tested, 12 ― including coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes ― were directly related to the genes that determine whether or not a person has a "favorable adiposity."

  • Of the diseases studied, nine were likely unrelated to someone's adiposity and were most likely a result of simply carrying too much weight, such as having deep vein thrombosis or arthritic knees.

  • No matter what a person’s adiposity, being obese can be a danger to one’s health, and everyone benefits from losing extra fat, even if they are metabolically healthy.

This is a summary of the article, “Lucky Genes Can Help Protect People With Obesity From Some Disease," published by the University of Exeter on January 24, 2022. The full article can be found on

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