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."