Losing about six kg of excess flab may help reverse the disturbed immune system of obese people, particularly those with Type 2 diabetes, Australian scientists have claimed.

The immune system is made up of many different kinds of cells that protect the body from germs, viruses and other invaders. These cells need to co-exist in a certain balance for good health to be maintained.

Many factors, including diet and excess body fat, can tip this balance, creating “pro-inflammatory” immune cells that can harm, rather than protect, our bodies.

But the study conducted at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney found that shedding about six kg of excess weight could reverse damaging changes in the immune cells of obese people, LiveScience reported.

“Excess weight disorders now affect 50 per cent of adult Australians, with obesity being the major cause of Type 2 diabetes and some cancers,” said study researcher Katherine Samaras, a professor the institute.

“The situation has reached crisis point, and people must be made aware that excess fat will affect their immune systems and therefore their survival,” she said.

According to the scientists, excess body fat, particularly abdominal fat, triggers the production of “pro-inflammatory” immune cells, which circulate in the blood and promote inflammation in our bodies.

Such chronic inflammation has been linked with coronary artery disease and other health problems. In addition, other inflammatory immune cells, known as macrophages, are also turned on within fat tissue.

But a moderate weight loss could bring down the levels of pro-inflammatory cells to the levels found in lean people, Samaras added.

For their study, the researchers looked at obese people with Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes (a condition in which people have high glucose levels) who were limited to a diet of between 1,000 and 1,600 calories a day for 24 weeks.