New discoveries surrounding a type of “good” fat that promotes the burning of calories could one day lead to better treatments for obesity, researchers say.
Unlike more recognizable white fat, which stores surplus energy, brown fat burns energy to generate heat.
Newborn babies have brown fat — presumably to help regulate their body temperature — but adults are believed to have little.
Researchers have studied brown fat for several decades in the hope that unlocking the mysteries of the unique fat could result in treatments to speed up metabolism and promote weight loss.
“I really do believe that promoting brown fat growth is a plausible approach to weight control,” researcher Bruce Spiegelman, PhD, of Harvard University’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, tells WebMD.
“To me it is attractive because of its simplicity. If more of our fat were brown fat, the mouse studies suggest that we would be leaner and better able to resist obesity.”
Brown Fat Derived From Muscle
In earlier research, Spiegelman and colleagues identified what he calls a “master switch” in mice, which promotes the production of brown fat.
In their latest animal studies, the researchers showed that the molecular switch, known as PRDM16, regulates the creation of brown fat from immature cells and that knocking out PRDM16 turned them into muscle cells.
Read more at WebMD