Students, residents, faculty and staff learned about one of the most common and talked about problems in the country today – obesity – and the science behind it during the 35th annual Dr. Mark Dodge Lectureship on Dec. 6 at the School of Medicine.
Michael D. Jensen, M.D., ’79, delivered the lecture after being introduced by Dodge’s daughter, Martha. His talk, titled “How Does Dysfunctional Adipose Tissue Cause the Metabolic Complications of Obesity?” focused on the effects of obesity and the behaviors of fatty acids.
Jensen, who was named a Mayo Distinguished Investigator in 2012, is a consultant in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism and Nutrition at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. He is also director of the Mayo Clinic’s Department of Medicine Obesity Treatment Research Program and a professor of medicine. After graduating from the UMKC SOM, Jensen completed residencies in internal medicine at Saint Luke’s Hospital and the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine and was a W. L. Stevenson Fellow in Clinical Nutrition at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine.
His research includes looking at the effects of upper verses lower body fat and the effect each has on one’s health, visceral health being the most detrimental. “When things start going wrong with fat, things go wrong with all the other tissues,” he said.
Jensen shared his experiences with patients and through research to illustrate the importance of education about obesity.
“Those of us who are normal weight are carrying around roughly three months worth of groceries in our fat, and most of us can regulate that so precisely that we maintain perfect metabolic health,” he said. “But when you start gaining fat in your upper body, you may have six months to a year’s worth of groceries stored in your fat cells and these are getting out at the wrong time.”