Grilled foods can lead to obesity and diabetes

Cover the grill. A recent study found that a common chemical produced by cooking food can play an important role in the development of obesity, type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance.

Doctors are struggling to find ways to reverse, or at least stem, the tide of obesity. Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, and current methods of losing weight, be it diet, exercise, medication, and surgery, have all been disappointing. Obesity, in turn, is also associated with a number of illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Researchers have since concluded that the best way to eliminate obesity is to prevent people from being completely obese. Now a study has found another risk factor for obesity: ages.

The study was conducted by Weijing Cai and colleagues at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Their findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. In studies with mice, prolonged exposure to a compound called methylglyoxal (MG) caused mice to gain significant weight in the abdomen. The compound also caused early insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. MG is a type of advanced glycation end product (AGE), produced when food is cooked using dry heat. EFAs have also been found to reduce the effectiveness of the body’s inflammatory response.

In the study, one group of mice received MG while another group of mice did not. Both were fed the same amount of calories and fat. Over the course of four generations, mice that were fed a MG diet had more body fat and developed insulin resistance early on. The control group did not exhibit these characteristics.

Abdominal fat in mice fed MG was converted into fat cells which inhibited glucose metabolism and hindered fat turnover. This inhibited process, in turn, has contributed to the development of insulin resistance and diabetes.

The study authors recommend that people cook food by simmering, poaching, or steaming meat and vegetables, rather than grilling them.

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Tanya S. Norvell

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