Fat Can Fight Fat, Study Shows

Fat may be the best weapon against – well, more fat, according to a new European study.

A new study by a group of European scientists has found that the best weapon for losing weight and fighting fat could be fat.

Researchers determined that a type of adipose tissue called brown fat tends to burn calories instead of store them. Most adults have more white fat, which is associated with obesity, since bodies are designed to store fat for future use in the event that food supplies run low. However, scientists have found that the energy burning brown fat could be useful when it comes to losing weight.

In a study published in the journal Science, a group of scientists led by Stephan Herzig of the German Cancer Research Center noted they may have found a way to make the white fat imitate calorie-hungry brown fat, which can increase the body’s energy consumption.

This brown fat is usually seen mostly in babies, keeping them warm and mimicking their mother’s womb. Once they grow and are able to regulate their own body heat, they shed their brown fat stores. However, scientists recently discovered that adults often store small deposits of brown fat in their necks.

Herzig’s team hopes to use stem cell technology to get white fat to act more like brown fat and burn up more calories. The research is focused on an enzyme called cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), which is involved in a number of physiologic functions, like muscle contraction and regulating blood pressure.

In the initial testing, boosting the function of COX-2 in mice caused the white fat to act like brown fat, and ultimately led to a 20 percent weight loss.

Researchers did note that because the COX-2 enzyme is present in a wide range of body tissues, increasing its activity could cause clotting problems and other serious side effects.

Although the study results sound promising, scientists still have a long way to go before they completely understand brown fat and how it can trigger weight loss in humans.

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