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‘Beige’ Fat the Key to Fighting Obesity, Burning Calories

A newly discovered kind of fat in adult humans could help reduce the risk of obesity….

Scientists have long been familiar with "white fat," which holds causes excess body weight, and "brown fat," which burns energy and creates body. The newly discovered "beige fat" is found only in adults and has properties of both.

According to lead researcher Dr. Bruce Spiegelman, brown fat is most commonly known as the kind of fat found on babies that helps them stay warm and fight off hypothermia. The genetically distinct beige fat found on adults was previously just thought to be "brown fat" held over from childhood.

However, beige fat is actually white fat that is converted by the hormone irisin. Beige fat, stored around the collarbone and spine, then helps burn calories.

"We’ve identified a third type of fat cell. There’s white, brown and now there is this third type that is present in most or all human beings," Spiegelman explained.

Since beige fat can both store and burn energy the research team says it could be the key to ongoing obesity research.

"What you want to study for potential therapies are the beige fat cells in these ‘hot spots’ we’re all walking around with," Spiegelman added.

Cell July 12, 2012