Humans Have Previously Undiscovered Beige Fat

Apr 12, 2015

Credit: Trzęsacz via Wikimedia Commons

By Alexandra Ossola

Having the right amount of body fat can be healthy, but most Americans have too much of it. A team of researchers led by a biologist at the University of California San Francisco has been investigating the cellular composition of this fat in order to engineer fat-burning drugs in the future that might help curb the obesity epidemic. The study was published recently in Nature Medicine.

The unhealthy kind of fat linked to diabetes and obesity is called white fat, and consists of big cellular blobs that predominantly just store energy. The “good” fat is brown fat—the cells are much smaller and they have mitochondria built in to quickly convert the fat into energy. Brown fat is what is typically identified as “baby fat” and is also found in hibernating animals. Researchers knew that adults had brown fat, too, but they weren’t sure if this was the same brown fat as we were born with, or something different.


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13 comments on “Humans Have Previously Undiscovered Beige Fat

  • A team of researchers led by a biologist at the University of California San Francisco has been investigating the cellular composition of this fat in order to engineer fat-burning drugs in the future that might help curb the obesity epidemic.

    Am I alone here in thinking this “Solution” is idiocy. Stop eating the wrong food. Start exercising.

    I’ll make a bet with any obese American. I will pay for and organise for the obese American to spend 12 months in a Sudanese refugee camp. All expenses paid. At the end of that 12 months, if the American has lost 50% of their body weight, they will pay me 10 times their costs. Any takers?

    Maybe the money Uni of Cal is going to spend on this obscenity should go to a charitable cause. For shame.

    The mysticism and self delusion of fat is second only to that practiced by the religious.



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  • It is not always as simple as eat less and exercise more. Not everyone who is overweight eats too much.

    I am unable to exercise due to disabling Health issues. Most days I eat less than 1000 calories a day and my weight continues to be an issue.

    It frustrates me to no end when people always assume that you are overweight because you eat too much. That is not always the case. Many people just have a slow metabolism.

    I for one welcome any advancements in this area and wish more research was put into the issue of slow metabolism, rather than always assuming excess weight is due to eating too much.



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  • Many people just have a slow metabolism..

    Just a quick search found this on Metabolism.

    First, let’s consider the term metabolism. It means the process by which the body converts food into energy. So, far from being responsible for weight gain, someone with a truly slow metabolism wouldn’t get all of the available energy from the food they eat and would actually lose weight!

    The correct term you are looking for is metabolic rate. From the same article.

    A much more relevant term – and this is what most people mean when they talk about metabolism – is metabolic rate. This is the energy (measured in kilojoules) a person expends over the course of a day just to keep the body functioning. Maintaining body temperature, breathing, blood circulation and repairing cells are all essential requirements for a functioning body. These processes are always happening and use a lot of energy.

    And further.

    So, can a “sluggish metabolism” be blamed for weight gain? With the exception of certain endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s syndrome, the answer is a clear no.

    A disability is a major complication and I don’t want to know your personal details. There are many people with a disability who are extraordinarily fit. Olympic athletes. My good friend won the London marathon in a wheel chair. But there are as many disabilities as there are interpretations of the bible. If your disability means that there is no part of your body that can take part in vigorous repetitive exercise then there’s not much you can do. But if you can swim. Turn a pedal with a hand or foot. Anything to increase your heart and respiration rate, you will increase your metabolic rate. If you do it for 12 months your metabolic rate will remain at a higher level. The more you do, the higher your resting metabolic rate. Anything is better than nothing.

    Homo Sapiens all have the same parts. They all work the same way. Energy in. Energy out. The balance scales of obesity. I’ve heard myriad excuses for why “I am overweight” but apart from a few exceptions, they are self delusions. “It’s not my fault.” If you are able bodied and overweight, a Sudanese refugee camp will cure you.

    Good luck and go for it.



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  • No doubt diet and exercise are the leading factors in weight loss, but I don’t see the point in evoking some tragedy in an effort to call Americans lazy. Based on a quick Google search, the UK is leading the US in obese adults by a long shot. 35.7 percent of American adults, and a staggering 64 percent of adults in the UK…



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  • David R Allen
    Apr 14, 2015 at 3:02 am

    If you are able bodied and overweight, a Sudanese refugee camp will cure you.

    I’m not overweight, but digging over two garden plots in the last week might have something to do with that.



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  • Obesity is defined differently in the UK. If we use their superior definition then all Americans are obese, while the majority in the UK being always harder on themselves than the uncivilized, are by comparison quite fit. -naturally

    :tea:



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  • As someone who once weighed 660lbs I can sympathize with the idea that a pill can be produced to help with weight loss. And indeed, many can help with weight loss. The issue is marketing more than anything else. They want people to believe there is an ‘easy’ way to do it. There isn’t. Even if you find things to help, there aren’t any real shortcuts. There is no such thing as a cure-all pill or supplement that you can take and the fat just goes away. Even the forced bulimia that is gastric-bypass won’t work properly if you continue eating garbage and sitting around.

    If you are obese there is nothing that exists that will replace switching to eating the right foods and exercising. After having lost 330lbs I can promise this is true.



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  • Homo Sapiens all have the same parts. They all work the same way. Energy in. Energy out.

    Memories of what my father said about weight gain from his medical practice came rushing back from my younger days, especially the law of “Energy in. Energy out.” Obese patients he saw always swore that they ate like a bird. “Yes,” my father confided, “but a bird eats all day.”

    Thanks, David.



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  • 12
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    Am I alone here in thinking this “Solution” is idiocy. Stop eating the wrong food. Start exercising.

    I agree. This is indeed the main cause of the problem and there is no easy solution. But the kind of language I’m hearing nevertheless sounds radical and rather uncharitable. I can speak from experience on this. I am between 20-30 pounds overweight which is close to obese by Canadian standards (but not by American standards) but I am definitely a fat-ass by any skinny/fit/athletic person’s standard.

    A disability is a major complication and I don’t want to know your personal details.

    All right so you’re not interested in knowing the reasons why people may have weight problems that may or may not be entirely their fault? Fine. I will spare you my details then. But this kind of rhetoric usually comes from people who don’t have a weight problem and are perfectly content to place all the blame on the shoulders of people who DO. Well sorry but it’s not always that simple.

    And BTW I know a few people who are skinny despite the fact that they don’t exercise at all and only eat junk (and who have no qualms about calling me a fat-ass and telling me I should go on a diet).

    Maybe the money Uni of Cal is going to spend on this obscenity should go to a charitable cause. For shame.

    And maybe the cause IS charitable. Or maybe you consider all overweight people to be so contemptible as to be totally undeserving of any help from scientific research? Cause for shame indeed.

    As for me, if science can come up with a way to convert my visceral fat (a sure-fire sign of metabolic syndrome which spells heart disease) into fat that I can actually burn without having to go to Auschwitz for 5 years, I’m all for it. Of course, exercise and eating well is required but what overweight people need is a helping hand. Something that can help them reach their goal without having to deploy superhuman efforts. Something to place that goal within reach. And most of all: hope and a little understanding.

    If you are able bodied and overweight, a Sudanese refugee camp will cure you.

    No it won’t. When you come back to civilization, you will go right back to your old habits and gorge yourself as a form of over-compensation for the starvation you’ve been through. You will not only gain all the weight back, but in fact you will most likely get fatter than you were before you went there. Starving people only adresses the symptoms and is a gross oversimplication of a complex problem. Chronic overeating has a myriad of metabolic, genetic, glandular, cultural and psychological roots and we’ve only scratched the surface.

    And blaming/shaming people into losing weight simply doesn’t work. It just exacerbates their feelings of guilt and inadequacy. And it makes them feel even more alienated.



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  • Yes.

    And then there is “scientific journalism”, which does tell you what is “true” (this week), and obscures any attempt to search reality and to try and discover what might be true.

    Most human beings only relate to “science” through the twisted filter of “scientific journalism”.



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