Telomeres are structures at the ends of human chromosomes that protect DNA from damage. To help you visualize them, they are often compared to the little plastic tips at the ends of shoelaces. As cells age and replicate, their telomeres shorten. When telomeres become critically short, cells stop functioning properly. So, the general idea is that telomeres may be a “biological clock” that reflects your physiological age/health more accurately than your chronological age. In other words, the longer the telomeres, the healthier the cells. (from here)Here is an interesting looking study about telomere length in fat. If you are fat or - ever have been - then your fat is biologically old. Now I have no idea what to make of that, but it is something to ponder. Your fat cells are older than they should be when you are obese. That is not healthy.
Telomere length of subcutaneous adipose tissue cells is shorter in obese and formerly obese subjects
Obesity and increased fat mass are associated with increased adipocyte proliferation. Telomere length can serve as a biomarker of a cell's biological (vs chronological) age. To gain insight in the physiology of adipose tissue, we aimed to investigate telomere length in subcutaneous adipose tissue in relation to age and obesity. Telomere length was measured in 72 subcutaneous adipose tissue samples from 21 nonobese and 51 obese subjects. Telomere length of subcutaneous adipose tissue cells was negatively associated with body mass index (BMI), systolic blood pressure and fasting triglycerides. After controlling for age, fasting glucose, triglycerides and smoking status, BMI (P=0.009) contributed independently to 16% of telomere length variance. Interestingly, formerly obese patients (n=10) had shorter telomere length than never-obese subjects (n=12) of similar age, sex and BMI (7.1±1.3 vs 9.08±1.8 kb, P=0.01). In summary, adipose tissue cells from obese subjects show a shorter telomere length. The shorter telomere length of formerly obese subjects suggests that this is an established, irreversible feature of obesity that could contribute to its comorbidities.