TL;DR - molecules have been found to transition white fat into an intermediary type of brown fat called "beige" fat. If we can get this right for humans we could find the key to losing weight without the hassle of working out etc.
Firsty, lets get the technicalities out of the way. In case you don't know there are two types of adipose tissue (fat) in the mammalian body - white fat cells and brown fat cells...
a storage of excess energy and we also use it for insulin regulation. In
"regular" humans it makes up about 20% of the fat stores in the human body. It
is the most common form of fat.
Brown fat is lesser known.
This fat is less common in the body (and actually less common in women/obese
people who have a higher ratio of white:brown) than white fat. Chemically it
resembles skeletal muscle more than any other tissue, which means it is
metabolically active and it has an active role in adaptive thermogenesis (making
heat when you're cold). This role comes from an adapted cell of brown fat known
as beige fat.
So, babies have a lot of brown fat but it
disappears as we grow older. What this article is stating is that we can force
our white fat cells to become beige fat cells, which essentially mimics being
cold. Brown fat is very good at keeping us warm, being metabolically active
(unlike white fat) it can generate heat to keep us warm
This is a good read and I like the reporters
style, however; it makes me wonder what the fate of the human race will be. I
know that some people DO have a hard time losing weight for medical reasons, but
most of us (and this includes myself) it's the simple case of a badly solved
mathematical equation - too many calories in VS too few calories
So if you found out that you could lose weight by doing
nothing, would you?
If you'd asked me this two years ago it
would have been a definitive YES! (I was still looking for that magic pill). But
now I know the benefits of exercise (not in terms of weight loss, but in
psychological wellbeing) would I still say yes? I don't know. The lazy side of
me is nudging me to say YES YES YES. But actually, what would that mean for me?
For the population? What if we had a magic pill to make us lose
For a start my lungs would be in much worse shape.
I'd probably have broken the barrier into diabetes. I'd never have fixed the
cartilage problem in my knee and more importantly I'd most likely be suffering
from more depressive episodes, which I have avoided for two years now through a
carefully regimented diet of cardio and weight training. For me, physical
exercise has the hugest psychological benefits. Some of you will know that 2.5
years ago I was housebound. Too sad to even go outside. My life was in tatters.
People always ask why I'm so active, they don't ever seem to
understand the psychological release of it. So if there was a magic pill - would
I ever have discovered what it's like to live a relatively normal life? What
about the people with managed conditions who were worse off - would they have
ever discovered a way of managing their conditions?
We're always trying to find shortcuts. The scientists, the government, OURSELVES but
maybe we should hang fire and look at the COMPLETE benefits of exercise. It's
not all for one reason. What would happen to those things if there was a magic
pill? I know for one I'd never have bothered trying exercise.
These studies and this research focuses on fat loss
(essentially) through increasing what your body needs (in terms of calories) to
run. It doesn't consider the wider implications of naturally raising your
metabolism and I think the some of these scientists miss the greater picture.
What do you think?