Energy burning fat discovered in lean adults could pave the way for new treatments for obesity and diabetes.
A US study of 1,972 patients has shown that adults have ‘good’ brown fat, previously thought to only exist in babies and children.
Researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Centre say the brown fat actively burns calories, unlike the body’s common ‘white’ fat, which stores energy.
Experts say the discovery could lead to a new therapy to control weight and improve glucose metabolism by stimulating brown fat growth.
Researchers examined PET/CT scans of patients and identified substantial brown fat deposits in 7.5% of women and over 3% of men.
Brown fat was found to be more common in young, lean adults and most active during cold weather.
The authors of the study suggest that people who retain more of their brown fat from childhood may be protected against obesity.
Professor Ronald Kahn, head of the Joslin Section on Obesity and Hormone Action, said: ‘The fact that there is active brown fat in adult humans means this is now a new and important target for the treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes.’