If you’re not into the whole diet and exercise thing – but still want to lose weight – there could be a way to have your cake and eat it too.
Scientists have identified a gene associated with obesity and a way to make white fat ‘more active’.
The white fat that accumulates around the middle and in our tissues is what leads to dangerous health problems. The idea is to give white fat fewer couch potato tendencies and help it more actively burn energy, more like the so-called brown fat that’s in such short supply.
The key lies in an intermediate type of fat that experts have dubbed “beige fat”. Brown fat is responsible for generating energy, and is more of what people need. As stated earlier, it’s in shorter supply, so mutating white fat into beige fat is easier than artificially creating brown fats.
The net effect is a composition of fat cells that is more amenable to generating energy and heat, and less inclined to cluster into fat.
“What these results say is that we can reprogram all the major fat stores in humans by intervening in this particular pathway,” said senior author Manolis Kellis from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
“We can manipulate the process that makes [pre-fat] cells become either white fat cells or beige fat cells. That dramatically changes the picture.”
Since fat cells take 4-5 days to mature from pre-fat cells, it’ll be possible to intervene the process, tipping the scale towards the energy-consuming beige fats, rather than fat-storing white ones.