Brown fat burns calories new obesity treatments.
We usually regard the fat present in our body as being â€œbadâ€. However, there are a variety of fats in the body which are actually good for an individual. This good fat, called brown fat is said to be active in burning calories and utilizing energy.
It was previously believed that this brown fat existed only in children and would mostly disappear by the time one reaches adulthood.Â By activating the brown fat in your body, you could lose 9 pounds or more of bad white fat every year without having to eat less or exercise more.
The discovery that brown fat is active in adults, indicates that this could mainly be aimed in the treatment of type 2 diabetes and obesity. The main role of brown fat was believed to be burning energy in order to generate heat.
Obese people tend to have more of white fat which is essentially an organ that preserves energy. Contrarily, brown fat seems similar to a heat generator.
Almost 50g of white fat seemingly adds up 300 kilocalories of energy. On the other hand, this same proportion of brown fat burns 300 kilocalories each day.
It was also found that younger patients had a higher likelihood of having larger amounts of this particular brown fat. Likewise, patients taking beta-blockers and patients who were older were also less likely to have active brown fat. For example, individuals both over age 64 and with high BMI scores were six times less likely to have substantial amounts of brown fat.â€
The scientists also believe that adults with brown fat are trimmer than those devoid of it. â€œAlthough this is early work, it is a proof of concept study showing that the growth of brown fat cells is possible, using precursor cells taken from adult humans, under appropriate stimulation,â€ remarked endocrinologist Dr Paul Lee.
How does it work?
Brown fat becomes activated when you’re cold. Virtanen and colleagues took advantage of this in their study: The five volunteers underwent PET scans after spending two hours under-dressed in a cold room, with one foot soaking intermittently in a bucket of ice water.
Activated brown fat burns white fat as fuel. It’s a very inefficient process that gives off heat and consumes a lot of fat.
New studies by Wouter D. van Marken Lichtenbelt, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Maastricht, Netherlands; and by Aaron M. Cypess, MD, PhD, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, and colleagues show that:
- Obese people have less brown fat than lean people do.
- Men have less brown fat than women do.
- Older people have less brown fat than younger people do.
- People with high blood sugar have less brown fat than people with normal blood sugar.
“In other words, they found a direct correlation between the activation of brown adipose tissue and metabolic measures that indicate the presence or absence of good health,” NIH researcher Francesco S. Celi, MD, writes in an editorial accompanying the studies.
Brown adipose tissue (called brown fat) helps babies, young children, and other small mammals stay warm by burning calories when activated by low temperatures. Scientists have been skeptical that adults retain significant amounts of brown fat on their bodies. But the new research shows that many of us perhaps even most do.
Substantial brown fat deposit was detected in about 7.5 percent of the female patients and in over 3 percent of the male patients. They also detected around 33 patients, whose scans revealed the largest concentration of brown fat in their necks. This protein was stated to be unique to brown fat.
The study findings suggest the possible role played by brown fat in controlling the body weight and glucose metabolism. These findings also suggest that higher levels of brown fat may protect against age-related obesity.
“The incredible excitement about this is that we have an entirely new way to try to go after obesity,” said Dr. Aaron Cypess of the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, Massachusetts, the lead author of one of the new studies. Every obesity drug now on the market aims at getting people to take in fewer calories, Cypess pointed out. The current findings, while very preliminary, suggest that drugs could be developed that fire up brown fat activity and help people burn calories faster.
The new research is important because it confirms that adults have brown fat involved in temperature regulation, while also probably playing a role in whether a person is lean or overweight, said Jan Nedergaard, a professor at the Wenner-Gren Institute at the University of Stockholm in Sweden who has been studying brown fat for 30 years, but was not involved in the current research.
“Brown fat can be a very significant player in the game of how we react to the food we eat and whether we store it or burn it away,” Nedergaard said.