Most recent update: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 16:38

Bariatric News - Cookies & privacy policy

You are here

Brown fat

Brown fat protects against diabetes and obesity

Brown has the ability to better regulate blood sugar this could be a potential medical weapon against diabetes

People with higher levels of brown adipose tissue in their bodies have better blood sugar control, higher insulin sensitivity and a better metabolism for burning fat stores, according to a study by researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston. Their findings suggest that because brown has the ability to better regulate blood sugar this could be a potential medical weapon against diabetes.

Labros Sidossis

"We showed that exposure to mild cold raised whole body energy expenditure, increased glucose removal from the circulation and improved insulin sensitivity in men who have significant amounts of brown adipose tissue depots," said UTMB's Labros Sidossis, professor of Internal Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine. "These results support the notion that brown adipose tissue may function as an anti-obesity and anti-diabetic tissue in humans."

People have two types of fat tissue in their bodies: the widely reviled white fat tissue and the less familiar brown fat tissue. One of the many ill health effects of excess white fat tissue is decreased insulin sensitivity. On the other hand, brown fat has several healthy qualities, including protection against obesity and diabetes.

In their study, which is published in the journal Diabetes, Sidossis and his colleagues compared otherwise similar healthy men with either high or low levels of brown fat tissue on their resting energy expenditure, glucose usage and insulin sensitivity.

The seven BAT positive (BAT+) men and five BAT negative (BAT-) men, who were similar in age, body mass index and adiposity, were placed in either normal temperature conditions or were exposed to mildly cold temperatures for five to eight hours.

Throughout the cold or regular temperature exposure period, the team conducted comprehensive analyses of various bodily samples. They collected blood and breath samples to observe changes in glucose and insulin concentrations, hormone changes, whole body oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production rates. They also aspirated brown and white fat tissue samples to analyse differences in cellular energy production and gene expression.

They report that cold exposure significantly increased resting energy expenditure, whole-body glucose disposal, plasma glucose oxidation, and insulin sensitivity in the BAT+ group only.

"In this study we show that, when activated via mild cold exposure, brown adipose tissue can increase energy expenditure and burn calories. This is good news for overweight and obese people," said Sidossis. "Of even greater clinical significance may be the finding that brown fat can help the body regulate blood sugar more effectively. This is great news for people with insulin resistance and diabetes and suggests that brown fat may prove to be an important anti-diabetic tissue."

Want more stories like this? Subscribe to Bariatric News!

Bariatric News
Keep up to date! Get the latest news in your inbox. NOTE: Bariatric News WILL NOT pass on your details to 3rd parties. However, you may receive ‘marketing emails’ sent by us on behalf of 3rd parties.