The discovery of a new chemical could target obesity and type 2 diabetes by converting white fat to brown fat, a study suggests.
Brown fat is known as good fat because it burns calories to generate heat, which can facilitate weight loss. High levels of white fat are considered to be a health risk because it stores excess calories.
Researchers from the University of Tennessee Health Science Centre report that the activation of a chemical called Beta-LGND2 reduced obesity and metabolic diseases in mice. This was achieved through the turning of white fat into brown fat.
Three groups of mice were used in the study: one was fed a normal diet; the other two were fed high-calorie diets to make them obese.
One of the high-calorie diet groups was treated with the Beta-LGND2 chemical, which is activated by an estrogen receptor called Beta (ER-Beta), while the other high-calorie diet group served as a control group.
The mice treated with Beta-LGND2 lost significantly more weight than the other high-calorie diet group. They also had higher body temperate and oxygen temperature, indicating higher metabolism rate.
“Safe and effective treatment for obesity is highly needed, and targeting ER-beta might be one of the strategies to safely combat obesity,” said study author Dr Ramesh Narayanan.
“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,” added Thoru Pederso, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, in which the study appears.
“The notion that the fat in our bodies comes in two physiological forms has long been know, but here we have the intriguing prospect of a beneficial pharmacological switch.”

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