All of this means that measuring fat as an indicator of general health might not hold up anymore, Scherer said. "It's really a matter of where we deposit these excess calories," he said. "Fat is a little like real estate, it's all about location, location, location."
Scherer hopes the outcome of his work will be finding ways to manipulate how and where fat is stored in people.
However, none of this should be seen as a free pass to become obese, Scherer said. "Exercise and reduction of food intake are the best ways to stay healthy," he said. "Most people can't prevent some fat from being stored in the liver and muscle," he added.
One expert agreed the finding does mimic what is seen in some people.
"It's too bad, we ain't mice," said Dr. Larry Deeb, president for medicine and science at the American Diabetes Association. "Clinically, there are people who are like those mice. They are significantly overweight, and yet, they don't have the insulin resistance," he said.
There might be therapeutic implications to this finding, if it could lead to a better understanding of why some people can become obese and not develop diabetes, and others don't, Deeb said.
However, there are other health consequences to being overweight besides diabetes, he noted. "Obese people wear out the knees and strain the heart and lungs and other body systems," Deeb said. "In addition, their quality of life suffers."
For more on diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association.
SOURCES: Philipp Scherer, Ph.D., professor of internal medicine, director, Touchstone Center for Diabetes Research at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas; Larry Deeb, M.D., president, medicine and science, American Diabetes Association; Aug. 23, 2007, online edition, '/>"/>
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