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Studies Suggest that Brown Fat may Help People Control their Weight

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Some new research studies are examining the possibility that brown fat may be used to help people lose or control their weight. Brown fat is said to burn fat “like a furnace”.

Up until about 3 years ago, scientists believed that only babies had brown fat. Babies use this brown fat in order to keep warm, as they are unable to shiver. The heat generating fat was originally believed to be unnecessary following infancy.

However, more recently it has been discovered that adults have very small quantities of brown fat located in the upper back, along the spine, on the sides of the neck, and between the shoulder and collarbone. Since brown fat possesses considerable metabolic importance regarding energy burning, there is newfound interest in the “good” type of fat.

In one study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, 6 male participants were cooled down for a period of 3 hours. The temperature was not enough to cause them to shiver. The researchers discovered that the men burned an additional 250 calories during the cooling process.

Another study involving mice determined that during exercise, they release a hormone that converts white fat cells into brown fat cells. It is believed that a similar mechanism may exist in humans, which explains why exercise burns a larger number of calories and helps us to lose weight.

Researchers stress that it is still too early to suggest that humans try to chill themselves in order to lose weight. However, the ability of the scientists in the above 2 studies to manipulate the activation of brown fat cells in order to increase the amount of energy given off, does provide a new avenue for researchers to investigate in the battle against obesity.

Source: CBS News