Researchers have identified a range of genes that are linked to both elevated levels of body fat, as well as offering protection from some of the negative health impacts of obesity.

According to the researchers, people living with obesity tend to have unhealthy glucose and lipid levels in their blood, as well as high blood pressure. As a result, they are more at risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

But researchers have observed that up to 45 per cent of people living with obesity have healthy blood pressure and glucose and lipid levels, and therefore may not be at high risk of disease.

“The identified genes seem to benefit our health by helping to maintain a healthy fat tissue,” said researcher Tuomas Kilpelainen from the University of Copenhagen.

“Some of the genes may offer targets for the development of new therapies that lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease by improving the health of our fat tissue,” Kilpelainen added.

For the study, published in the journal Nature Metabolism, the team analyzed data from hundreds of thousands people who had been assessed for their body fat and disease risk markers.A

They identified 62 sections of the genome that were significantly associated with both high levels of body fat and lower risk of cardiometabolic diseases.

Further analyses showed that the genes had a range of functions in the body, including the regulation and development of fat cells, distribution of body fat, as well as energy regulation and inflammation.

The researchers then carried out the computational analyses that identified the genes.

“We used a data-driven approach in this study, which led us to find new genes associated with fat tissue health, instead of the known obesity genes associated with central nervous system, which control satiety and are typically linked to unhealthy obesity,” the researchers said.

The researchers conclude that obesity is a complex disease but not every individual with excess body weight is equally at risk of developing cardiometabolic diseases.