Increasing muscle mass can help lower risk for type 2 diabetes.
Researchers analysed data from 13,644 adults who took part in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III between 1988 and 1994. They found that for each 10 percent increase in the skeletal muscle index (SMI) - the ratio of muscle mass to total body weight - there was an 11 percent reduction in insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.
There was also a 12 percent reduction in pre-diabetes, a condition characterised by higher-than-normal blood sugar levels.
The findings suggest that beyond focusing on losing weight to improve metabolic health, there may be a role for maintaining fitness and building muscle mass.
This is a welcome message for many overweight patients who experience difficulty in achieving weight loss, as any effort to get moving and keep fit should be seen as laudable and contributing to metabolic change.