With obesity as a major health concern today, it is hard to comprehend the statement “It is not only food that can make you fat”. However, there is a vast amount of published information that proves the truth of this statement.

For some people, obesity is not the result of excessive food consumption, poor food choices, and failure to exercise. Problems with mitochondria (the energy makers in our cells), leaky lymphatics and other mutations can drive and maintain fat growth. All people presenting with fat disorders have increased fat, but not all necessarily become morbidly obese. This fat is diseased and cannot be lost through traditional diet and exercise.

Dercum’s Disease (Adiposis Dolorosa), Madelung’s Disease, lipedema and Familial Multiple Lipomatosis or Angiolipomatosis are names of some of these fat disorders. These are known as Rare Adipose Disorders, and they are painful, progressive genetic disorders that result in abnormal accumulations of fat in the form of lipomas, excess lymphatic fluid, and many other symptoms. See how they relate.

Fat Can Be Disabling

It is unknown just how many people suffer diseases resulting from fat disorders. Misdiagnosis is common because the symptoms can mimic other diseases. Patients are often simply told to lose weight, exercise more and in the case of lipedema, Dercum's Disease or Familial Multiple Angiolipomatosis, that "fat doesn’t hurt."

Even when there are visible lumps under the skin, the examiner may not investigate further and may simply determine that the patient has harmless fatty tumors (lipomas) that require no further treatment. In fact, these lipomas or angiolipomas can be extremely painful when they are associated with fat disorders.

There are several disorders listed by NORD (National Organization for Rare Disorders) which involve the growth of abnormal fat and are physically debilitating. In general, these diseases are under-researched as well as under-diagnosed. Most medical professionals are not familiar with these disorders, and as a result, the patient may suffer in pain questioning their own symptoms.




Research in the area of fat disorders is sorely needed. Only a few researchers around the world are involved in this area of research. More research and more investigators are needed to find the genes for these diseases and their cures.