By knocking down the expression of a protein in rat brains known to stimulate eating, Johns Hopkins researchers say they not only reduced the animals’ calorie intake and weight, but also transformed their fat into a type that burns off more energy. The finding could lead to better obesity treatments for humans, the scientists report.
“If we could get the human body to turn ‘bad fat’ into ‘good fat’ that burns calories instead of storing them, we could add a serious new tool to tackle the obesity epidemic in the United States,” says study leader Sheng Bi, M.D., an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
More than two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight, and more than one-third are obese, according to government estimates.
The Johns Hopkins study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, looks at two types of fat made by the body: white and brown adipose tissue. White fat is the typical fat that ends up around your middle and other places, and is the storehouse for the extra calories we eat. White fat cells have a single large droplet of lipid, one of fat’s building blocks, such as cholesterol and triglycerides.
Cells in brown fat, considered a “good fat” for its energy-burning qualities, contain many little droplets of lipid, each with its own power source, which enables heat generation. Babies have ample stores of brown fat at birth as a defense against the cold, but it mostly disappears, as adults have very little of this
Read how the guys at Johns Hopkins designed the experiment here – Turning ‘bad’ fat into ‘good’: A future treatment for obesity?.