Washington: A new study has uncovered a molecular process in the brain known to control eating that transforms white fat into brown fat.
According to researchers at Yale School of Medicine, people become overweight and obese when energy intake exceeds energy expenditure, and excess calories are stored in the adipose tissues, which are made up of both white and brown fat. While white fat primarily stores energy as triglycerides, brown fat dissipates chemical energy as heat. The more brown fat you have, the more weight you can lose.
The researchers demonstrated that neurons controlling hunger and appetite in the brain control the "browning" of white fat.
Lead author Xiaoyong Yang said hunger and cold exposure are two life-history variables during the development and evolution of mammals and they observed that food deprivation dominates over cold exposure in neural control of white fat browning. This regulatory system may be evolutionarily important as it can reduce heat production to maintain energy balance when we are hungry. Modulating this brain-to- fat connection represents a potential novel strategy to combat obesity and associated illnesses.
The study was published in the journal Cell.