BEIJING, April 10 (Xinhuanet) -- A new U.S. study shows healthy adults still have significant deposits of brown fat -- previously believed to be present in babies and children -- that could lead to a new way to lose weight.
Researchers said Wednesday brown fat burns calories faster than regular fat that stores energy and comprises most body fat. It is normally so dormant in adults that there has been debate over how much adults have or whether they have it at all.
In three studies published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine, researchers report finding brown fat in most adults and discovering they can detect it by exposing people to cold. In some cases, adults who had more active areas of brown fat were thinner.
The hope is that if a way can be found to activate this brown fat and get the body to make more of it, people could burn off extra calories without additional exercise.
The researchers analyzed a database of 1,972 patients who had undergone positron emission tomography/computed tomography scans for a variety of reasons during a three-year period.
Senior author Dr. C. Ronald Kahn said the study shows brown fat not only exists in adults, but it is metabolically active.
"The fact that there is active brown fat in adult humans means this is now a new and important target for the treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes," Kahn said in a statement.