Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Increase brown fat and lose weight!

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal suggests that if adults had more baby fat, we may be able to lose weight more easily. Adults have primarily white fat that stores energy from the food we eat. However, baby fat is comprised primarily of brown fat, which requires energy (calories) to generate heat, that's why babies have a high amount of this type of fat.

Researchers at Harvard found a protein that drives the production of brown fat and it may convert some white fat cells into brown fat. They are working on a drug to stimulate this process and we may have a new obesity drug in a few years! How are they doing this? Well, their goal is to find a chemical that prompts production of this protein but doesn't stimulate any other molecules in the body, therefore it can specifically treat obesity. Is this really good news? While I am not a pharmacist, I can't imagine a drug that doesn't affect any other function in the body, otherwise there wouldn't be side effects.

Other researchers believe that if we can tolerate cold better we may be able to promote brown fat production. Subjects are exposed to cold temperatures - about 40 degrees, 15 minutes, 7 days. After a week, infrared scans show that men's bodies produced more heat than they did a week earlier, which is believed to be due to an increase in the activation of brown fat. Researchers suggest that if people are able to control their environment by adjusting the thermostat, they may be able to tolerate a lower temperature; most likely due to their body's ability to generate heat. Hmm, not sure I would volunteer for that study!

Now I'm all for innovation, yet do we need another drug to combat obesity? As obesity rates continue to rise, it seems that's not the solution. Dr. Spiegelman of Harvard's Dana-Farber Cancer Center stated "We're not trying to replace diet and exercise, but frequently they're not enough or not effective." Wow, seriously? How can it NOT work? Take a look at Drs. Wing and Hill's work at the National Weight Control Registry (1) and read the success stories. Registry members have lost an average of 66 lbs and kept it off for 5.5 years. And they state that in order to achieve this they ate a balanced diet and increased physical activity!

In my opinion, another obesity drug will not solve America's problem; it's just not that easy. It doesn't matter if you only have 10 lbs to lose or 100 lbs. Making the decision to lose weight takes a complete change of your current mindset and lifestyle; along with some planning and of course, TIME and PATIENCE! We all can't lose 100 lbs in 7 weeks as they do on the Biggest Loser, most of us have lives outside of the "ranch". Consistent, small changes will get results!

1. National Weight Control Registry: