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This Is How Belly Fat Can Cause Diabetes

This Is How Belly Fat Can Cause Diabetes

OK, what do you want first? The good news or the bad news? The bad news isn’t new – belly fat is bad for you. The good news is that research is discovering how belly fat causes diabetes.

That belly fat damages your health has been known for a while. But research is beginning to show how the trick is done. And we may be able to find a way to undo the magic, lift the curse, and do a little magic of our own.

Dangers of Belly Fat

Belly fat has been tied to cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. It plays a role in poor health outcomes for the obese.

And inflammation increases the danger. Inflamed belly fat has been associated with insulin resistance, for instance. But researchers didn’t know if that was how belly fat causes diabetes or if inflammation was the effect.

So What’s the Trick?

The trick is DPP4 (dipeptidyl peptidase 4), an enzyme. Researchers studied DPP4 because sitagliptin (marketed as Januvia) lowers blood sugar by blocking this enzyme in the gut.

They found that obesity stimulates liver cells to produce DPP4 in the liver as well. And while the oral medication blocked it in the gut, it didn’t block the liver DPP4.

So this seems to be the process (super-simplified):

  • In obese people, DPP4 is released, in this case by the liver.
  • DPP4 interacts with Xa, a component of plasma.
  • The combination leads to inflammation of the ATMs (adipose tissue macrophages – macrophages are white blood cells that surround, “eat,” invading bacteria, cancer cells, etc.).
  • Because of the reaction of the ATMs to DPP4 and Xa, VAT (visceral adipose tissue, i.e., belly fat) develops inflammation.
  • Belly fat inflammation leads to insulin resistance, which leads to diabetes.

And as it turns out, when you block the DPP4 coming from the liver (or the DPP4 or Xa helper chemicals), belly fat inflammation and insulin resistance are turned around.


When researchers discover the full story of how belly fat causes diabetes, that may be, at least, the beginning of the end for a very bitter disease.