People with more brown fat better able to control blood sugar
Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) reviewed the effects brown fat had on metabolism in 12 healthy men. The effects of burning calories and sensitivity to insulin were monitored during resting periods at room temperature as well as when they rested at cooler temperatures of 18-21 Celsius for a period of 5-8 hours.
The men that had higher amounts of brown fat in their bodies were able to burn 15% more calories in cooler temperatures than those with less brown fat. The result was that the men with more brown fat would be able to burn 300 calories more if sat in cooler temperatures over the course of a day.
In addition, the researchers showed that the subjects with more brown fat were not just burning calories but burning off blood sugar too. Participants with more brown fat would burn off 25g more of sugar through a day in cooler temperatures than those with less brown fat. The participants with more brown fat benefited from increased energy expenditure, glucose usage and increased insulin sensitivity which were not experienced in the group with lower amounts of brown fat.
Because of its calorie and glucose burning properties, brown fat represents an interesting area of diabetes research. One class of drugs, thiazolidazines (TZDs), which include the controversial drugs Actos and Avandia, have previously been shown to be able to turn white fat cells into brown fat cells.