Scientists believe that they have found a way to turn ‘bad fat’ (brown fat) into ‘good fat’ (white fat). Brown fat burns calories while white fat only stores them. Scientists have experimented only on rats at the moment, but are hoping that the same can be done on humans. If this is the case then it will be a new way to treat obesity and related health problems such a Type 2 Diabetes.
Scientists used to think that adults didn’t have any brown fat. They believed that it was only there to keep babies warm and disappears as you became older or more muscular.
Some studies now show that more than half of adult men and women have enough brown fat that can burn off a huge amount of white fat. Brown fat in adults became evident to scientists during PET scans. The activated brown fat was able to be seen in scans. If the brown fat is activated, which is normally when you are cold, scientists believe that humans can lose weight without having to eat less or even exercise more.
The new studies have shown that obese people have less brown fat than lean people do and people with high blood sugar have less brown fat than people with normal blood sugar.
Some teams at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have done an experiment on rats to see if suppressing an appetite-stimulating protein (NPY) would reduce their body weights. The result was that the rats food intake decreased and so did their appetite. When the rats were fed a very high fat diet they actually kept the weight off compared with the rats who didn’t have their NPY suppressed.
The rats that had NPY suppressed, their bad white fat had turned into good brown fat. The premise is that if the same can be done on humans and burn the bad white fat, this will contribute towards controlling obesity and help weight loss.