obese fat

A new chemical has been discovered that could help treat obesity and type 2 diabetes, by targeting white fat and converting it into brown fat, according to a study.

Previous research has highlighted the difference between brown and white fats, with brown fat being seen as ‘healthier’. This is because the body burns brown fat to generate heat and keep itself warm, facilitating weight loss, whereas white fat simply stores up excess calories and is harder to lose.

Scientists from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center found that activating a chemical known as Beta-LGND2 had a significant effect on reduction obesity and metabolic diseases in mice. Beta-LGND2 interacted with an estrogen receptor known as ER-Beta to generate more brown fat.

In the study, the scientists looked at three different groups of mice, one of which was fed a normal diet, and the other two which were fed a high-calorie diet.

One of the high-calorie groups was treated with the Beta-LGND2 chemical, while the other served as a control group. The treated group lost significantly more weight than the control group, and also had a higher body temperature and oxygen consumption, both of which indicate a higher metabolic rate.

Study author Dr Ramesh Narayanan said that “Safe and effective treatment for obesity is highly needed, and targeting ER-beta might be one of the strategies to safely combat obesity.”

Thoru Pederson, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, in which the study appears, said: “As both the prediabetes condition of metabolic syndrome as well as obesity itself continue to threaten the health of millions of people in many parts of the world, we need all the new findings dedicated researchers can give us.

“The notion that the fat in our bodies comes in two physiological forms has long been known, but here we have the intriguing prospect of a beneficial pharmacological switch.”