As a result of a new study, scientists claim to have a better understanding of why diabetes develops in people with excess weight.
In the study, six healthy, middle-aged men volunteered to double their daily caloric intake in order to rapidly gain weight. The men were also confined to hospital beds, and did not participate in any form of physical activity.
Over the course of one week, the men gained an average of eight pounds by eating mostly carbohydrates and fat (pizza, hamburgers, sweets). They consumed roughly 6,000 calories per day, and the weight they gained was completely from increased fat.
The purpose of the study was to determine how obesity leads to insulin resistance, a condition that causes the body's cells stop responding to the hormone insulin. Insulin aids in the transfer of blood sugar into cells, and therefore, insulin resistance can trigger to a buildup of sugar in the bloodstream, causing type 2 diabetes.
The men developed insulin resistance after two three days of rigorous eating. Samples of the participants' fat tissue and urine indicated an increase in oxidative stress in their bodies, meaning there was an increase in compounds that are toxic to cells. This oxidative stress caused fluctuations in GLUT4 levels, a protein that helps sugar enter cells.
The GLUT4 fluctuations may have impaired the participants’ ability to respond to the hormone insulin, leading to an insulin resistance, the researchers said.
"We may have found the initial events that are responsible for the insulin resistance," reported study researcher Salim Merali, a professor of pharmaceutical sciences at Temple University in Philadelphia.
The findings suggest that antioxidants might help prevent insulin resistance, Merali said.
To learn more about the study, visit livescience.
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