Flipping the Switch on Fat

New research suggests that cooler temperatures can burn excess calories.
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Scientists have previously demonstrated that cooler temperatures can promote the formation of “good” brown adipose tissue – the type of fat known to burn excess calories, fat and sugar as well as helping to regulate blood sugar – but they weren’t sure how this occurred. A new study out of the University of Nottingham in England has gained insight into the process, revealing that adult cells can be triggered to form “good” brown fat (versus the “bad” white fat cells associated with weight gain) by a modest dip in temperature – taking the body’s normal temperature of 98.6°F down to 89.6°F. Next steps in this research include finding the “on” switch in the cell that makes it respond to temperature change. Once this receptor is located, people who want help managing their weight by increasing the amount of calorie-burning brown fat tissue may be able to avoid cold exposure entirely. Instead, scientists can start to identify drugs and other therapies that activate the same switch, thus tricking the body into producing more fat-torching fat cells.