Research currently shows that there are two kinds of fat in our bodies, brown fat and white fat. When we are born
we have a certain amount of brown fat, as well as white fat, in our bodies; however, as we age the amount of brown
fat in the body diminishes and is replaced by white fat.
The reason for this loss of brown fat is not exactly clear. But, we do know that white fat makes us fat. Brown fat, on
the other hand, may prove to be a boon to weight loss by aiding in weight loss because its main purpose is to
regulate body temperature by burning energy and in doing so it regulates fat in our bodies.
This ongoing research is very important because it is no secret that obesity is a national epidemic and causes
misery and poor health for those unfortunate enough to be obese. Obesity leads to heart disease, diabetes, high
cholesterol, and other health problems that plague two thirds of the people in this country.
Obesity rates in the U.S. have more than doubled in the last 30 years and it looks like there is no slowing them
down at present. The health care costs for the future will be astronomical for those of us who are obese.
If it can be determined what happens to the brown fat in our bodies and why it becomes white fat as we age it may
become an important fat fighting tool for all those persons who are over weight and those who are obese. There is
even a theory that researchers hope to test in the future that the injection of brown fat stem cells under the skin
would perhaps cause white fat to burn. It would make brown fat a fat burning tool.
Make no mistake about it, all fat is not bad. Our bodies and most of all our brains need fat to survive. Brown fat is
an exceptional form of tissue that is not stored like white fat, but instead it burns white fat. But, the outcome of
research to date does not mean that making brown fat active will lead to instant easy weight loss for all; especially
because our bodies are wonderful mechanisms that can outsmart all efforts to rid it of white fat. Also, these
proposed studies of injections of brown fat could show that eventually it would damage or skew other bodily systems
and harm our health.
Much more research needs to take place before we know the answers to just how brown fat might somehow assist
in weight loss.
To date, brown fat in sizeable quantities is found only in newborn babies and rodents. As noted above, brown fat
primary activity is regulation of body temperature. And those brown fat cells burn high quantities of sugar which is
the body’s fuel as energy. Also, leaner adults seem to have more of the brown fat deposits than overweight or
Currently, we know that as people become older, the body is more efficient at controlling body temperature; and the
theory is that the brown fat accumulations begin to shrink and white fat takes over as we age.
Swedish researchers, using special imaging technology, have discovered that healthy adults store a portion of
brown fat in both the front and the back of the neck. Although this imaging technique has its most significant use
in scanning cancer patients to detect tumor growth, it was noted that there was excess activity of brown fat cells in
those images. The scientists just did not understand what they saw.
We do know that, for some reason, cancer patients and persons with hypothyroidism have more brown fat growth
than other people. This is another reason why adding brown fat injections for fat loss in the future must be more
thoroughly investigated. No one wants to expose obese people to yet other health issues such as cancer or
Now that the brown fat has been identified, the issue is how can it be activated to burn more glucose and to do so
safely in obese people? We know that brown fat is more active in cold. It was proved by volunteers who were
placed in ice baths while being scanned and the scans showed increased brown fat activity. So the mystery has
something to do with temperature of the body as well as age, and overall health.
To make the human body burn bad fat with good fat instead of storing the extra would be an amazing tool against
the obesity epidemic in this country. Wishing for a brown fat bullet for weight control is a very long way away into
So what can be done at the present to elevate fat burning in our bodies? The answer is to add omega-3 fatty acids
to the diet. Add fatty fish such as mackerel, tuna, sardines or salmon and/or add a natural fish oil supplement to
Always check with your primary health care provider before adding any healthy supplement to your diet. It might
interfere with any prescribed medication you are currently taking.