Researchers study fruit flies to investigate treatments for obesity, type 2 diabetes

It's a combination of lifestyle and genetic factors that contributes to metabolic disorders, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. This may be one reason why a cure for these conditions has not been found, since a pill cannot make someone eat right or exercise.

However, there are diabetes treatments that have been shown to help reduce symptoms and aid in diabetes management. Furthermore, researchers have been studying potential therapies that may boost metabolic function and reduce insulin resistance.

In one such study, published in the journal Cell, investigators used fruit flies to study how certain genetic factors may cause insects or humans to gain excess weight or develop metabolic irregularities, such as type 2 diabetes.

They found that a factor called SIK3 regulates fat storage and expenditure, depending on whether an insect or human is awake or asleep. For example, the gene allows for more fat to be stored during the day so that the body has enough energy to survive on when no food is eaten at night.

However, as many people know, individuals sometimes store too much fat in their bodies. The National Institutes of Health reports that more than 60 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. Moreover, about 20 million people have diabetes and another 60 million are insulin resistant to some degree.

"This is a huge problem tied to obesity. Finding a way to curb obesity will essentially require consideration of both environmental and genetic factors. The human counterparts of [the enzyme] HDAC4 and SIK3 may be mutated in ways that make them work less effectively and enhance our proclivity to become obese," said lead researcher Marc Montminy.

Until diabetes treatments to alleviate metabolic irregularities are discovered, addressing the lifestyle components that contribute to type 2 diabetes may be the most effective approach.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week.