Scientists Find Possible Treatment for Obesity

Looking for ways to turn bad fat into good fat, scientists are closer to discovering a treatment for obesity.

Scientists Find Possible Treatment for ObesityBad fat or white fat is the kind that is stored, whereas brown fat breaks down easier and burns more energy.

A study out of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine published in the journal of Cell Metabolism were looking for a way to suppress appetite in rats by inhibiting the protein in the brain responsible for eating. Not only were they successful in breaking down this protein, but as a result, bad fat was transformed into good fat – the kind that burns more energy.

“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.

Brown fat is present in larger quantities in babies, as it helps insulate them against the cold. But as we mature, this brown fat disappears and turns into white fat – the bad fat that is typically found around the midriff. White fat cells house one large droplet of lipid fat of either cholesterol or triglycerides, whereas brown fat cells house a large number of smaller droplets that each has its own energy source for easy breakdown.

This five-week study performed on rats found that the group whose neuropeptide was suppressed to reduce hunger had lost more weight than the two other control groups. These rats were then split into four groups and either fed a high-fat diet or a healthy diet:

  • Neuropeptide Suppressed Group
  • High-Fat Diet
  • Healthy Diet
  • Non-Neuropeptide Group
  • High-Fat Diet
  • Healthy Diet

After 11 weeks, the Neuropeptide Group weighed less and lost more weight than the Non-Neuropeptide Group in both categories.

Not only did the Neuropeptide Group lose weight, but upon examination, the rats were found to possess more brown fat. The researchers believe that the suppression of said neuropeptide results in the conversion of white fat to brown fat. And that brown fat never disappears completely after infancy, but remains dormant.

“It may be possible to transplant or inject brown fat stem cells under the skin to burn white fat and stimulate weight loss. Only future research will tell us if that is possible.”

Other promising results from this test show that suppression of the neuropeptide NPY:

  • Increases spontaneous physical activity
  • Improves blood sugar levels
  • Enhances insulin sensitivity in rats

It is not know whether these effects above are a result of the increased presence of brown fat or simply just a result of the suppression of NPY.


Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. “Turning ‘bad’ fat into ‘good’: A future treatment for obesity?.” ScienceDaily, 5 May 2011. Web. 15 May 2011.

Originally published @ FITLODE.COM


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