Skinny fat cells may lead to weight gain in future | Science & Tech News

People with small fat cells are more likely to gain weight when they’re older, according to scientists in Stockholm.

Although you might not be able to tell from looking at them, some people have smaller fat cells than others, which shrink and grow as their weight fluctuates.

To test how these different-sized cells impact weight over time, doctors at the Karolinska University Hospital Huddinge in Sweden measured the size of people’s fat cells and weighed them.

Fifteen years later, they weighed the same people again.

They have now discovered that people with smaller fat cells are more likely to gain weight in the future compared to people with bigger ones, who are more likely to lose weight.

“It is a bit like having a room filled to the top by a few large balloons or many small ones,” said one of the study’s authors, Professor Peter Arner.

“It is easier to make empty space in the room by letting out air from the big rather than the small balloons.”

‘Great clinical value’

The scientists say their research could improve how people are treated for obesity.

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“It could be of great clinical value to have information about fat-cell size before starting a weight-management programme,” said Professor Arner.

“If it is the case that those with large fat cells find it easier to lose weight, those with smaller cells could be given extra support.

“Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy way of measuring fat-cell size at present – but it is something we are working on and we’re close to coming up with a solution.”

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There is good news for people with skinny fat cells, though. Generally, those with small cells have faster metabolisms, which means they’re less at risk of conditions like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

So, the next time you go on a diet, you can imagine your body as a room full of balloons and wonder which way you’ll deflate.

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