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More muscle mass reduces diabetes risk?

July 29, 2011 at 2:09 PM

LOS ANGELES, July 29 (UPI) -- Increasing muscle mass may reduce the odds of developing diabetes, a new U.S. study suggests.

While previous research has focused on reducing body fat, a study by researchers at UCLA suggests a link between higher muscle mass and a lower risk of diabetes, USA Today reported Thursday.

"Our findings suggest that beyond focusing on losing weight to improve metabolic health, there may be a role for maintaining fitness and building muscle mass," Preethi Srikanthan, a professor of medicine at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine, said.

To see if there was a correlation between higher levels of muscle mass and lower levels of insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes, the study analyzed data from 13,644 adults taking part in a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The researchers found each 10 percent increase in the skeletal muscle index -- the ratio of muscle mass to total body weight -- corresponded to an 11 reduction in insulin resistance.

"Extra fat has bad effects, but more muscle has good effects," Daniel Rubin, a professor of medicine at Temple University School of Medicine, says.

"These data are also consistent with data we see on exercise, that it helps decrease diabetes risk, and that a lack of exercise and weight gain increase risk."

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