New revelations about fat color percentages could change the way we treat diabetes and obesity
Brown fat is often called the “good” fat, because it helps you burn calories and you can generate more by exercising, which converts white fat to brown fat.
White fat (AKA the “bad” fat) is associated with metabolic syndrome and is the fat people tend to fixate on when they look in the mirror — that’s the fat that accumulates around your belly or butt (and in women, the hips and breasts).
Until now, it’s been thought that the proportion of brown fat in the body has been pretty small, but a recent study from the Technical University of Munich that was published in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine looked at nearly 3,000 PET scans of 1,644 patients (PET scans allow researchers to see metabolic activity in the body) and found that humans have three times more brown fat in the body than previously believed.
This could have big implications for how we treat conditions like obesity and diabetes.
The researchers were also able to see that brown adipose tissue “absorbs lots of sugar,” which means that tailoring new diabetes or obesity drugs to increase brown fat activity could lower blood sugar levels in diabetics.
The study also found that some people naturally have more brown fat than others.
Further, the researchers found that some people’s bodies are more easily able to activate their brown fat than other people.
Study author Tobia Fromme told ScienceDaily that this might explain why some people watch what they eat but still gain weight easily while others can seemingly gorge on pizza all day and never gain a pound.
One last interesting finding: Fromme’s team discovered that brown fat activity is affected by something called creatinine clearance (basically, the rate at which your body creates creatinine-free blood, since creatinine is a waste product).
Fromme told ScienceDaily that more research is needed, but that it’s possible there may be “signaling substances” within the body that affect both the way your brown fat and your kidneys work.