London: Certain genetic factors may impact our body in intriguingly paradoxical ways. A team of scientists has identified 14 new genetic variations that were linked with higher Body Mass Index (BMI) but have the potential to lower risk of diabetes, lower blood pressure and lower heart disease risk.
According to researchers, it is because the location -- around middle or round the liver -- where surplus fat is stored could be genetically determined.
This location is more important than the amount when it comes to insulin resistance and risk of diabetes and other conditions.
"There are some genetic factors that increase obesity, but paradoxically reduce metabolic risk. It is to do with where on the body the fat is stored," said Brunel Alex Blakemore, Professor at the Brunel University London.
The findings revealed that as they gain weight, people who carry these genetic factors store it safely under the skin, and so have less fat in their major organs such as the liver, pancreas and kidneys.
"Directly under the skin is better than around the organs or especially, within the liver," Blakemore added.
For the study, published in the journal Diabetes, the team examined more than 500,000 people aged between 37 and 73.
They used Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans of these people's waists to match where they stored extra fat with whether they showed signs of Type-2 diabetes, heart attack and risk of stroke.
"There are many overweight or obese individuals who do not carry the expected metabolic disease risks associated with higher BMI," explained Hanieh Yaghootkar from the University of Exeter in Britain.
"Meanwhile, some lean or normal weight individuals develop diseases like Type-2 diabetes," Yaghootkar noted.