Obesity crisis over Scientists discover way to turn 'bad' fat into 'good' fat
'Bad' white fat stores energy while 'good' brown fat burns itExperts have turned white fat into brown fat by mimicking enzymes called sirtuins
Daily Mail Reporter
15:59 GMT, 2 August 2012
15:59 GMT, 2 August 2012
Scientists have taken a leap forward in the battle against the bulge by discovering how to turn fat into muscle.
The discovery could prove a milestone in tackling diabetes and obesity, which costs the NHS an estimated 4 billion a year, a financial toll which is rising every year.
People have two types of fat – ‘bad’ white fat which stores energy and accumulates from not exercising enough, and ‘good’ muscle-like brown fat which burns it.
Good weight battles be history Turning white fat into brown fat could tackle obesity, say scientists
Researchers have discovered a switch that can turn white fat into brown, which would speed up a person’s metabolism and tackle that paunch.
Fat can be “browned” using drugs called thiazolidazines (TZDs), by activating a cell called ppar-gamma, which increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin.
But doctors have steered clear of using these drugs because of their harmful side effects which include liver toxicity, bone loss, and, ironically, weight gain.
By studying mice and human fat tissue, scientists at Columbia University Medical Centre in America found that white fat is converted into brown fat when the activity of enzymes called sirtuins increases.
They created a mutant version of the ppar-gamma, in effect mimicking the actions of sirtuins, converting white fat into brown.
The finding, which appears today in the online journal Cell, opens up the possibility to inventing new ways to tackle obesity – one of the biggest threat to health in the UK claiming up to 30,000 lives a year.
The study’s lead author Domenico Accili, professor of Medicine at Columbia University, said: 'Turning white fat into brown fat is an appealing therapeutic approach to staunching the obesity epidemic, but it has been difficult to do so in a safe and effective way.'
She added: 'Our findings have two important implications. First, they suggest that TZDs may not be so bad – if you can find a way to tweak their activity.
'Second, one way to tweak their activity is by using sirtuin agonists, that is, drugs that promote sirtuin activity.'
In 2009, almost a quarter of adults (22 per cent of men and 24 per cent of women) in the UK were classified as obese.