If one thought that liposuction, a cosmetic surgery by which one can get rid of the excess fat around the abdomen and hip areas, can help reduce the risk of diabetes, he or she may have a rethink.
City doctors say fat in the central parts of the body is not just what is found under the skin that can go away by surgery.
“There are also fat cells surrounding the internal organs including liver, intestine and stomach that are involved in metabolic activities. These increase the risk of diabetes,” said Dr Karthik Prabhakar, a City-based endocrinologist.
Moreover, doctors say trunkal obesity (central obesity) is a sureshot indication of the increase in the risk for cardiovascular diseases.
An increasing number of people suffering from trunkal obesity are consulting them, according to cardiologists. The doctors are advising people to keep a healthy diet and do physical exercises to keep obesity at bay. The typical body shape resembling an apple or pear with fat deposits mainly around the abdomen and hip areas is a cause for concern, they say. Dr H Sudarshan Ballal, director, department of nephrology of Manipal Hospitals, explained that there had been an evident increase in the number of people suffering from cardiovascular diseases as a result of trunkal obesity.
“I see an increase in the number of people with fat bellies walking into our hospital and this is definitely not a good sign,” he said. A pot belly could lead to other complications including hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol problems and higher uric acid secretion. It also leads to an increase in very low density lipo-protein (VLDL) that causes atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries) and, in turn, heart attacks and strokes.
Ballal explained that this problem was more prevalent among Indians compared with people in the West. It is more of a genetic problem with Indians who have the thrift gene (that causes metabolic syndrome), he said.
“On an average, four out of five people suffering from type 2 diabetes have trunkal obesity,” said Dr Prabhakar. He said pot bellies and diabetes did have a significant association. There is an increased chance of developing insulin resistance, a condition where the body cells stop responding to the harmone insulin. Hypo-thyroidism, a condition where the body metabolism slows down significantly, is also one of the factors leading to pot bellies, he said.
According to the Southall And Brent Revisited cohort, insulin resistance and trunkal obesity are important determinants of the greater incidence of diabetes in Indian Asians and African Caribbeans, compared with Europeans. On an average, it is understood that Indian men with a waist line more than 85 cm and women with a waistline over 75 cm are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
Ballal said it was a factor that had a strong association with lifestyle and food habits. The nephrologist said it was the sedentary lifestyle that was to be blamed, when it came to any form of obesity or overweight problem. He said cutting down on sugar and salt was an important preventive measure to keep heart problems at bay.