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The fight against obesity: new insights into the effects of “brown fat”
Why does brown fat help you lose weight? This question has been researched in science for years and an Austrian research team has now found that a short-term, moderate cold intake can help people with brown adipose tissue burn significantly more calories than people who do not have this adipose tissue.
Various scientific studies have shown that brown fat cells play an important role in losing weight and can prevent diabetes and obesity. Researchers from Austria have now gained new insights into the effects of brown fat on humans.
Promising goal in the fight against obesity
As the Medical University (MedUni) Vienna writes in a current communication, a short-term, moderate cold intake can help people with brown adipose tissue to burn 15 percent more calories than people who do not have this adipose tissue.
This is the central result of a study published in the clinical journal of Endocrinology & Metabolism.
In contrast to white adipose tissue, brown adipose tissue burns calories through fatty acid oxidation and heat production and is therefore considered a promising goal in the fight against widespread obesity (obesity) - this process can be activated by cold.
"These data improve our understanding of how brown fat works in humans," says the head of the study, Florian W. Kiefer from the Department of Endocrinology & Metabolism, University Clinic for Internal Medicine III of the MedUni Vienna.
The body can use fat deposits if necessary
In humans and mammals, a general distinction is made between at least two different types of fat deposits, white and brown fat. According to the MedUni, white adipose tissue is much more common in the human body, stores fat, and is preferably found in the well-known “pads” on the abdomen, buttocks and thighs.
With increased energy requirements, the human body can access these depots. Brown fat, on the other hand, burns energy and releases heat. However, the number of these cells decreases steadily with age and with overweight.
In addition, it is less active in people with diabetes, explains the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in an older message.
Adults still have some brown fat, but the majority of body fat is white fat. In adults, the brown fat is located in the deep neck / neck areas and in the chest. Brown fat is considered the "thermal power station" of the human body. Babies are well padded with it. You need it to keep from cooling down.
Healthier fatty acid blood profile
Using a PET scan, the researchers identified two groups - those with and those without active brown adipose tissue.
The researchers analyzed the function and energy consumption of brown adipose tissue in these people before and after short-term exposure to cold and found that the group with active brown adipose tissue not only burned significantly more calories, but also had a healthier fatty acid blood profile.
“We found that people with active brown adipose tissue burned 20kcal more than those who don't have brown fat,” explains Kiefer.
"People with active brown adipose tissue also had higher concentrations of anti-inflammatory fatty acids, while some of the harmful fatty acids that are known to contribute to diabetes or heart disease were lower," explains the MedUni Vienna researcher.
"This shows us that we have to examine the human brown fat even more closely to see whether the activation of this organ can protect us from metabolic and cardiovascular diseases." (Ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Medical University of Vienna: New findings on the effects of "brown fat" on humans, (accessed: May 2, 2020), Medical University of Vienna
- Kulterer OC, Niederstätter L et al .: The presence of active brown adipose tissue determines cold-induced energy expenditure and oxylipin profiles in humans; in: Clinical Journal of Endocrinology & Metabolism, (published: April 28, 2020), Clinical Journal of Endocrinology & Metabolism
- Technical University of Munich: Brown fat becomes transparent, (accessed: May 2, 2020), Technical University of Munich