'Good fat' most prevalent in thin children
Researchers at Joslin Diabetes Center and Children's Hospital Boston have shown that a type of "good" fat known as brown fat occurs in varying amounts in children increasing until puberty and then declining - and is most active in leaner children.
The study used PET imaging data to document children's amounts and activity of brown fat, which, unlike white fat, burns energy instead of storing it. Results were published in The Journal of Pediatrics.
"Increasing the amount of brown fat in children may be an effective approach at combating the ever increasing rate of obesity and diabetes in children," said Aaron Cypess, MD, PhD, an assistant investigator and staff physician at Joslin and senior author of the paper.
In 2009, Cypess' team demonstrated in The New England Journal of Medicine for the first time that brown fat is metabolically active in adult humans. Previously, it was thought that brown fat was present only in babies and children. Their study showed it was found in between 3 and 7.5 percent of adults, with higher rates among women.
In this new study, the researchers reviewed PET scans that had been conducted on 172 children ages 5 to 21 at Children's Hospital Boston. Active brown fat was detected in 44 percent of the children, with the rate about the same for girls and boys. Children aged 13 to 15 had the highest percentage of detectable brown fat and the highest brown fat activity. But in addition, body mass index (BMI) was correlated inversely with brown fat activity, meaning that the thinnest children had the highest brown fat activity.
While the 2009 study of adults showed brown fat was more active in cold weather, in keeping with its role of burning energy to generate heat, the new study in children showed outdoor temperature had no effect on brown fat activity.
The increase in brown fat activity from childhood to adolescence and its inverse correlation with obesity suggest brown fat may play a prominent role in pediatric metabolism, energy balance and weight regulation, the authors said.
"We believe that the ability to non-invasively evaluate brown fat activity in vivo with PET imaging provides a better understanding of its prominent role in pediatric physiology, and may possibly provide insights into the treatment of childhood obesity," said first author Laura Drubach, MD, of Children's Hospital program in Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging.
Cypess said the goal is to first search for nonpharmacological ways to increase brown fat activity, perhaps by setting indoor temperatures colder in homes where obese children live. Perhaps certain foods could also play a role in increasing brown fat levels, he said. If not, the development of new drugs might be the answer, he added.
A 2010 Joslin study identified cells in mice that can be triggered to transform into brown fat.
"We might be able to combat the obesity and diabetes epidemics if we find safe ways of increasing brown fat activity," Cypess said. "This might be an additional tool in the fight."
However, he said there are still many questions to be answered. For example, it is not known whether the relationship between BMI and brown fat is that children have more brown fat because they are thin or if having more brown fat causes children to be thin.
"That's the billion dollar question," he said. "But we do know that brown fat is a core component of pediatric and likely adult metabolism."
Provided by Joslin Diabetes Center
- Adults, especially women, have calorie-burning 'brown fat' Jun 11, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Calorie-burning brown fat is a potential obesity treatment, researchers say Jun 06, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Joslin study identifies 'good' energy burning fat in lean adults Apr 08, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Fat chance: Brown vs. white fat cell specification May 14, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Cold and brown fat raise the prospect of a new method of treating obesity Apr 16, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
The gap between life expectancy in patients with a mental illness and the general population has widened since 1985 and efforts to reduce this gap should focus on improving physical health, suggest researchers in a paper ...
Health 12 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Failure to use linked electronic health records may lead to biased estimates of heart attack incidence and outcome, warn researchers in a paper published in BMJ today.
Health 12 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
Dietary advice on added sugar is damaging our health, warns a cardiologist in BMJ today. Dr. Aseem Malhotra believes that "not only has this advice been manipulated by the food industry for profit but it is actually a risk ...
Health 12 hours ago | 5 / 5 (4) | 0
(HealthDay)—In 2008 to 2010, the prevalence of key health behaviors among U.S. adults varied, with about one in five adults current smokers and 62.1 percent overweight or obese, according to a report presented ...
Health 14 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
(HealthDay)—The overall health of Americans isn't improving much, with about six in 10 people either overweight or obese and large numbers engaging in unhealthy behaviors like smoking, heavy drinking or ...
Health 14 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Is it permissible to harm one to save many? Those who tend to say "yes" when faced with this classic dilemma are likely to be deficient in a specific kind of empathy, according to a report published in the scientific journal ...
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Phthalates: Study links chemicals widely found in plastics, processed food to elevated blood pressure in children, teens
Plastic additives known as phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates) are odorless, colorless and just about everywhere: They turn up in flooring, plastic cups, beach balls, plastic wrap, intravenous tubing and—according to the ...
2 hours ago | not rated yet | 1 |
(Medical Xpress)—Native peoples in regions where cameras are uncommon sometimes react with caution when their picture is taken. The fear that something must have been stolen from them to create the photo ...
19 hours ago | 4.2 / 5 (5) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—Despite spending billions of dollars on research and development, drug companies have been unable to come up with effective treatments for dementia and Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Now, A. ...
17 hours ago | 4.9 / 5 (14) | 0 |
Australian scientists have charted the path of insulin action in cells in precise detail like never before. This provides a comprehensive blueprint for understanding what goes wrong in diabetes.
19 hours ago | 4.6 / 5 (7) | 0 |
Activating an enzyme known to play a role in the anti-aging benefits of calorie restriction delays the loss of brain cells and preserves cognitive function in mice, according to a study published in the May ...
13 hours ago | 5 / 5 (5) | 0 |