A new study suggests that some cells in the immune system have a considerable effect on obesity, and may also affect the development of Type 2 diabetes.
The research was conducted at Weill Cornell Medical College and published in the magazine Nature. The researchers found that immune cells warded off obesity in mice, and suggested that the same could be true of humans, too.
The researchers found that the number of immune system cells, also known as ILC2s (Type 2 innate lymphoid cells), were lower in the belly fat from obese adults and higher in the belly fat from thinner people. While experimenting on mice, the researchers also found that ILC2s stimulated the development of “beige” fat cells, which improve the body’s ability to burn calories.
It seems that immune cells don’t function properly in obesity. Exactly why this occurs is still not clear, and requires further research.
It’s only in the past few years that research has been able to shed some light on how the immune system plays a role in weight control and metabolism.
Our immune system is the body’s resistance against infections. While the immune system’s primary function is to fight infection, it’s likely that a part of its mechanism has evolved to affect fat tissue during times of difficulty, so that it can change the body’s metabolism.
Researchers have also found that when people are injured or have an allergic reaction, the body transitions into “hypermetabolism,” or enhanced calorie burning.
Obesity raises the risk of a number health conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer, and stroke. Hopefully, this research will lead to the development of new ways to tackle obesity.