Researchers may have discovered a new method for determination of function of adipose tissue that could be used in the battle against obesity. They have found the correct site and location of brown adipose tissue by taking thermal imaging of shoulder, head and neck area. Brown fat tissues (BAT) are the only tissues that possess maximum potential to expand heat energy.
“Potentially, the more brown fat you have or the more active your brown fat is you produce more heat and as a result you might be less likely to lay down excess energy or food as white fat,” explained lead author Michael Symonds (Nottingham University, UK) in a press statement.
“This completely non-invasive technique could play a crucial role in our fight against obesity. Potentially we could add a thermogenic index to food labels to show whether that product would increase or decrease heat production within brown fat. In other words whether it would speed up or slow down the amount of calories we burn.”
There are various methods which can be used to determine BAT such positron-emission tomography (PET), computed tomography (CT) scanning, and/or tissue scanning. The major drawbacks of these all methods are, they are very expensive and during such testing administration of radiopharmaceuticals are also required.
They can also apply to limited population and may not provide “indices of BAT function in real-time”.
“As reported in the Journal of Pediatrics, the team’s thermal imaging study of 26 individuals showed that after exposure to a standard cool challenge (placement of either both feet or one hand in 19-20°C water), the hottest anatomic site of the supraclavicular region corresponded to the site previously established by PET/CT as comprising BAT”.
Obesity is affecting almost 155 million children worldwide. According to the WHO it has been estimated that approximately more than 42 million children having age less than five years are overweight.
Dr Helen Budge, Clinical Associate Professor and Reader in Neonatology, said: “Babies have a larger amount of brown fat which they use up to keep warm soon after birth making our study’s finding that this healthy fat can also generate heat in childhood and adolescence very exciting.”
Professor Symonds said: “Using our imaging technique we can locate brown fat and assess its capacity to produce heat. It avoids harmful techniques which use radiation and enables detailed studies with larger groups of people. This may provide new insights into the role of brown fat in how we balance energy from the food we eat, with the energy our bodies use up.
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