A paper published in the latest edition of Diabetes, journal, has come with answers to why women are more prone to gaining belly weight than men. It also explains the reasons for women gaining more belly fat after menopause.
Study on mice fat unravels a mystery
This study was conducted on female mice and the control group consisted of male mice. Researchers from the human nutrition department of Ohio state university performed experiments to study this effect on women.
Experiments were set up where mice, both male and female were fed high fat diet. A particular enzyme – retinoic acid is found to get activated by the presence fat. This enzyme is responsible for deposition of fat in the visceral organs (around the belly). As expected, female mice, which have higher levels of this enzyme, developed more fat cells around their bellies.
In the following experiments, genetic manipulation was done on some of these female mice. The genes responsible for secretion of this enzyme were altered to stop the production. As a result, even with high fat diet, such female mice did not accumulate fat around their bellies. The same experiment was conducted on male mice, but the results were not as dramatic.
Results and inferences from the study
The results from these experiments have led to the following conclusions
- Obesity is a matter of genetics, contrary to traditional beliefs that obesity is caused by consumption of larger portions of food and a sedentary lifestyle.
- It is the genetic factors that dictate the body what to do with the fat that enters the body. If it directs it to accumulate it, fat gets deposited in various parts of our body. If it commands to burn it, the fat is used.
- Diet intake has no power as compared to the genetic factors. Fat tissues extracted from humans have this enzyme in them. The levels of this enzyme were more in obese women than normal women.
- Another important fact that emerged is that the enzyme estrogen stops the working of retinoic acid. Hence women are able to put on more weight after menopause.
- One other enzyme that is involved in the buildup of fat is aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 which influences the production of retinoic acid.
These findings will revolutionize the way physicians treat obesity. In the near future, therapies that will alter the production of estrogen, aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 and retinoic acid will help tackle obesity among women. This will in turn help avoid cardio vascular disease, cancer and such chronic illnesses caused by obesity.