White fat is the ‘bad’ stuff which stores energy rather than burning off calories.
What produces 300 times more heat than any other organ in the body? What stops a baby from freezing to death if left in the cold? The answer to both questions is “brown fat”.
Scientists have discovered that this type of fat is a good thing because it produces lots of heat by burning calories. Unlike white fat, which clings to our hips and expands our ageing waistlines, brown fat keeps the weight off. And that’s why the race is on to find out more about brown adipose tissue, also known as brown fat, and how humans could use it to our advantage.
“If we activate brown fat, we can eat more and not gain weight”. Prof Sir Stephen Bloom Imperial College London
When we’re born we have lots of brown fat in our bodies, wrapped round the central organs to keep us warm, to help us adapt to life outside the womb. As we grow, however, the brown fat content of our bodies decreases. Researchers at the University of Nottingham have been using heat-seeking technology to find out if brown fat is still present in children and adults.
The baby’s back in the image below is very warm (coloured red) due to the presence of large amounts of brown fat protecting its organs.
Abridged article: By Philippa Roxby Health reporter, BBC News