After decades of believing that humans lose energy-producing "brown" fat after infancy, when we develop the shivering response, three new studies have found that it still exists in all adults. According to the New York Times,"brown fat basically acts like a furnace, consuming calories and generating heat." All three accounts are summarized in today's New England Journal of Medicine and reach the identical conclusion that brown fat is a calorie-burning machine when triggered by chilly temperatures between 61 and 66 degrees.
Most brown fat has been identified in the neck and collarbone areas, and if stimulated it could be an efficient way to burn the bad whitish-colored fat in the body. Here's what else the researchers discovered:
- Leaner adults have much more brown fat than obese individuals.
- Those with normal blood sugar levels have more brown fat than people with high blood sugar.
- Women have a greater amount of this type of fat than men.
- Younger people have more brown fat than older people.
This is exciting news on the obesity front, because if scientists can find a way to activate brown fat with a pill, it would be the first to focus on burning energy rather than suppressing appetite.