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Fat Could Help the Fight Against Obesity

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Scientists have long-known that newborns have brown fat to maintain their core body temperature and that its gone by adulthood - until now. It’s recently been discovered that most adults have brown fat (brown antipode tissue or BAT) and it is a good type of fat to have.

White fat, the type we are all too familiar with, stores itself (and calories) and gathers stubbornly around the waist. BAT, on the other hand, burns calories with an enzyme that releases energy from food. In simple terms, white fat equals bad and brown fat equals good. Ironically, researchers are discovering that brown fat could be the key to curing obesity.

Three independent studies, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, have confirmed that BAT is common in adults and is imperative to good metabolism.

Dr. Aaron Cypess, a research associate at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, discovered that some adults have BAT around their neck areas; that women have twice as much BAT as men; and that young, thin people have the most BAT.

Cypess also notes that temperature plays a significant role in brown fat activation and that the colder the temperature, the more brown fat was detected.

Scientists at Stockholm University found that the mice that were unable to make brown fat gained weight fifty times faster than those who could.

Patrick Seale, a post-doctoral fellow at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine discovered a protein (PRDM-16) that is present in every brown fat cell and absent in white fat cells. Seale is now trying to find a gene that would be able to turn on PRDM-16 on.

Rather than seeing fat as unsightly and something of a nuisance, scientists are discovering that fat is a complex organ and important to how we function efficiently. Researchers are still learning more about brown fat, its relationship to metabolism and how it interacts with the body in its entirety.

Most Americans have more white fat than they really need with 34 percent of the population over the age of 20 considered obese.

Add a Comment3 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Overweight and obesity are epidemic in the United States and many countries worldwide, and although many weight loss diets, programs, medicines and other treatments, very few approaches work in the background and some have a solid scientific research.

Houston personal injury

May 9, 2010 - 11:08pm

This actually sounds like an amazing fact. Even it is known that the cause of the disease itself play the role of its antidote. Now even fat can help one fight against overweight and obesity. People try many things to get rid of the overweight now they have one more option to try and get fit and healthy with a nice shape of the body.

April 7, 2010 - 11:56pm
EmpowHER Guest

The trick is finding a way to encourage the growth on "new" brown fat deposits.

Somehow, I don't think sitting in a walk-in freezer is going to take off as the latest weight loss trend

The question is...What can Brown Fat do for You?


April 7, 2010 - 4:39am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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