Most of us would prefer to have less fat and more muscle. But there's one type of fat that researchers have been studying for it's fat-burning potential: brown fat. In fact, because brown fat is full of blood vessels and mitochondria, it's very good at converting calories into energy  thereby helping to prevent obesity. Fat that burns fat? Oh, the interesting irony! 

In order to curb the growing obesity epidemic, researchers have been trying to learn more about brown fat. According to ScienceDaily, scientists used to believe that brown fat disappeared after infancy, but recent advances in imaging technology led to its rediscovery in adult humans. And now there's more information they've garnered: a hormone that activates brown fat in mice. Called orexin, the hormone is produced in the brain and an deficiency of orexin has been associated with obesity. 

Published in the journal Cell Metabolism, researchers studied mice that were genetically programmed to lack orexin. What they found was that the orexin-deficient mice weighed more  even though they actually ate less. This suggests that eating too much was not the cause of their obesity, instead these mice were less able to use extra calories as heat the way that normal mice would and therefore ended up storing the extra calories as fat.
 
While mice are obviously not people, researchers believe human bodies may operate in a similar way. In fact, researchers are now taking the next steps in determining how orexin might be able to prevent or treat obesity in humans. 

 

Jennipher Walters is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomedGirls.com and FitBottomedMamas.com. A certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and regularly writes about all things fitness and wellness for various online publications.

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