12 January - 20 June 2016

Brown fat and metabolism

16 July 14

Ambient temperatures can influence the growth or loss of brown fat in people, according to a new study presented at the Ice/Endo 2014 annual conference in Chicago. Brown fat, also known as brown adipose tissue, is a special kind of fat that burns energy to generate heat. The new research suggests that long-term exposure to cold environments can stimulate growth of this "good" fat in humans, potentially benefitting glucose and energy metabolism. The researchers tracked the body fat composition of five healthy men for four months. They lived their normal lives during the day, and returned each night to the National Institute of Health Clinical Centre, staying for at least 10 hours in a temperature-regulated room. For the first month, the rooms were maintained at 24°C, a ‘thermo-neutral’ temperature at which the body does not have to work to produce or lose heat. The temperature was then moved down to 19°C for the second month, back to 24°C for the third month, and up to 27°C for the fourth month. Independent of the season during which the study was carried out, brown fat increased during the cool month and fell during the warm month. In fact, the cold month increased brown fat by around 30-40%. Among the metabolic benefits of increased brown fat was heightened insulin sensitivity. This suggests that people with more brown fat require less insulin after a meal to bring their blood sugar levels down. This study could also potentially help in the development of new treatments for diabetes. [MedicalNewsToday, Daily Mail, ScienceDaily]

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