Did you know that there are different types of body fat?
According to a new study published in the journal Diabetes, people with higher levels of brown fat have a reduced risk for obesity and diabetes.
But…what exactly is brown fat?
According to WebMD, scientists have found that lean people tend to have more brown fat than overweight or obese people — and that when stimulated it can burn calories. Scientists are eyeing it as a potential obesity treatment if they can figure out a way to increase a person’s brown fat or stimulate existing brown fat. In fact, brown fat is now thought to be more like muscle than like white fat. When activated, brown fat burns white fat.
Researchers have also now found that, unlike white fat, which lowers insulin sensitivity, brown fat actually improves insulin sensitivity, blood sugar control and fat-burning metabolism.
“This is good news for overweight and obese people,” Labros Sidossis, a professor of internal medicine in the division of geriatric medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, said in a university news release. “This is great news for people with insulin resistance and diabetes, and suggests that brown fat may prove to be an important anti-diabetic tissue.”
For the new study, researchers compared the resting energy expenditure, blood sugar usage and insulin sensitivity of a group of similar, healthy men with either high or low levels of brown fat.
“We showed that exposure to mild cold raised whole body energy expenditure, increased glucose [blood sugar] removal from the circulation and improved insulin sensitivity in men who have significant amounts of brown [fat],” explained Sidossis. “These results support the notion that brown [fat] may function as an anti-obesity and anti-diabetic tissue in humans.”