Medical Research Charities > News > Skinny and 119 Pounds, but With the Health Hallmarks of Obesity, NY Times

Skinny and 119 Pounds, but With the Health Hallmarks of Obesity, NY Times

A small group of thin patients who develop disorders typically tied to obesity pose a medical mystery and a potential opportunity for scientists.

Claire Walker Johnson of Queens was a medical mystery. No matter how much she ate, she never gained weight.

And yet Ms. Johnson, with a long narrow face, had the conditions many obese people develop — Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and, most strikingly, a liver buried in fat.

She and a very small group of very thin people like her have given scientists surprising clues to one of the most important questions about obesity: Why do fat people often develop serious and sometimes life-threatening medical conditions?

The answer, it turns out, has little to do with the fat itself. It’s about each person’s ability to store it. With that understanding, scientists are now working on drug treatments to protect people from excess unstored fat and spare them from dire medical conditions.

The need is clear. One in three Americans and one in four adults worldwide have at least three conditions associated with obesity such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure — a combination of disorders that doubles their risk of heart attacks and strokes. In addition, 2 percent to 3 percent of adults in America, or at least five million people, have a grave accumulation of fat in their livers caused by obesity that can lead to liver failure.

Click here to read the full article by Gina Kolata, The New York Times.