Obesity can result from more than just laziness and too much chocolate. Problems of the metabolic system – that turns food into energy – can impair the ability to burn calories and lead to weight gain. One key to a healthy metabolism is brown adipose tissue (BAT). Although a type of fat, it prevents obesity by burning up to 20% of our energy, which otherwise could be added to the waistline, to produce body heat. While the role of malfunctioning BAT in obese mice is well-established, studying the human link is hampered by the lack of scanning techniques that can distinguish it from other fat types. A new method, however, can single out BAT (highlighted in yellow) from the surrounding fatty tissue (in red) in mice. If refined for human use, the technique could eventually help to fight the obesity epidemic that affects around 500 million people worldwide.
Written by Jan Piotrowski
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