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Polish researchers with an idea for detecting early obesity

Each year, even 2.8 million adults die as a result of being overweight or obese. There are many indications that thanks to the work of scientists from AGH University of Science and Technology and Jagiellonian University, early detection and an effective fight against obesity are closer than they seemed.

The inadequacy of current techniques

Magdalena Szczerbowska-Boruchowska, PhD, from the Department of Medical Physics and Biophysics at the Faculty of Applied Physics and Informatics of the AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków, and Agata Ziomber-Lisiak, MD, PhD, from the Department of Pathophysiology at the Jagiellonian University Collegium Medicum, have made a discovery that may have an impact on the effective fight against obesity. [1]

Current markers for detecting obesity are subject to several interferences, according to the researchers. Indicators such as high triglycerides and low HDL, hypertension or elevated plasma glucose levels, like the popular BMI index, do not include metabolically healthy obese people, i.e. the mentioned indicators are within their normal range. [2]

New testing method

In response to the problem, described above, the researchers and their teams therefore thought it worthwhile to look for a more effective way to detect obesity. In the abstract of their

paper published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, they indicate: The objective of our study was to identify new markers related to excessive body adiposity and its early consequences. For this purpose, we determined serum FGF-19 [protein] and FGF-21 [hormone secreted by the liver] concentrations in obese rats, whose role in the pathogenesis of obesity is not yet established. In addition, a total reflection X-ray fluorescence technique was applied to determine the elemental chemistry of certain tissues affected by obesity. (…) We demonstrated that obesity had the greatest effect on elemental composition in the adipose tissue and liver and that rubidium (Rb) had the highest importance in distinguishing the studied groups of animals. The teams were able to confirm FGF-19, FGF-21 and rubidium as useful markers of obesity-related changes. [3]

Implications for medicine

The research teams have focused on analysing the health of rats – but there is great potential for using the method developed to help humans. The discovery could have implications for both reducing mortality risk and significantly lowering the cost of treating obesity. According to the World Obesity Foundation: On current trends, overweight and obesity will cost the global economy over US$4 trillion of potential income in 2035, nearly 3% of current global gross domestic product (GDP). [4]

Worth noting is that the discovery made by research teams from AGH University of Science and Technology and Jagiellonian University may have significant implications for Poland. This is because current methods of identifying obesity are not always capable of precisely diagnosing this health condition, creating a need for more effective diagnostic tools.


1, 2. Poles identify new markers of obesity and its complications, Katarzyna Czechowicz,, (access 27th October 2023)

3. Ziomber-Lisiak A, Piana K, Ostachowicz B, Wróbel P, Kasprzyk P, Kaszuba-Zwoińska J, Baranowska-Chowaniec A, Juszczak K, Szczerbowska-Boruchowska M. The New Markers of Early Obesity-Related Organ and Metabolic Abnormalities. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2022; 23(21):13437. World Obesity Atlas,, (access 27th October 2023)

Patryk Kukla
My primary motivation is to pursue an academic career through running research in the social psychology field. I hope that my work will have a positive impact on the academic community as well as the understanding of human nature.
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Patryk Kukla

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