Fat That Keeps You Thin

From exercise to liposuction, we're always looking for ways to fight fat. But scientists say there's a special kind of fat that you wouldn't want to get rid of because, ironically, it may help keep you thin.

"Brown fat" was believed to be found only in newborns in order to keep them warm. However, recent research shows that this kind of adipose tissue, which burns calories much like muscle does, is present in adults. Giving experts hope that it could be manipulated for obesity and weight-loss treatments, brown fat was found to be more prevalent and active in already-thin people.

The only known way to identify and activate brown fat is by exposing a person cold, a function related to our pre-global-warming, pre-central-heating survival. The challenge now is to find other ways to activate this calorie-burning tissue, and perhaps convince the body to make more of it.

"Using brown fat to treat obesity has been talked about for 30 or 40 years, but people essentially gave up on it." Dr. Aaron Cypress of Boston's Joslin Diabetes Center told Reuters. "Many said it didn't exist in adult human beings and many said it didn't have any connection to obesity and weight at all. What these studies show is that virtually every adult human being has functional brown fat in them."