Skip to content

    Diabetes Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Healthy 'Brown Fat' May Cut Odds for Diabetes

    Study confirmed it helps regulate blood sugar levels, increases insulin sensitivity in people with more of it

    WebMD News from HealthDay

    By Mary Elizabeth Dallas

    HealthDay Reporter

    MONDAY, July 28, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- People with higher levels of brown fat have a reduced risk for obesity and diabetes, a new study suggests.

    Unlike white fat, which lowers insulin sensitivity, researchers found that brown fat actually improves insulin sensitivity, blood sugar control and fat-burning metabolism.

    "This is good news for overweight and obese people," Labros Sidossis, a professor of internal medicine in the division of geriatric medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, said in a university news release. "This is great news for people with insulin resistance and diabetes, and suggests that brown fat may prove to be an important anti-diabetic tissue."

    Previous research has suggested that brown fat plays a role in regulating body temperature, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

    In conducting the new study, published recently in the journal Diabetes, the researchers compared the resting energy expenditure, blood sugar usage and insulin sensitivity of a group of similar, healthy men with either high or low levels of brown fat.

    The men were exposed to either normal or slightly cold temperatures for five to eight hours. During this time, the researchers analyzed samples of their blood and breath to monitor changes in their hormone, blood sugar and insulin levels. The investigators also tracked their whole body oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production rates.

    Brown and white fat tissue samples were also taken. The researchers examined these samples for any differences in cellular energy production and gene expression.

    When exposed to slightly cold temperatures, brown fat can boost energy expenditure and burn calories, the study revealed.

    "We showed that exposure to mild cold raised whole body energy expenditure, increased glucose [blood sugar] removal from the circulation and improved insulin sensitivity in men who have significant amounts of brown [fat]," explained Sidossis. "These results support the notion that brown [fat] may function as an anti-obesity and anti-diabetic tissue in humans."

    While the study showed an association between levels of brown fat and a reduced risk for obesity and diabetes, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

    Today on WebMD

    Diabetic tools
    Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
    woman flexing muscles
    10 strength training exercises.
     
    Blood sugar test
    12 practical tips.
    Tom Hanks
    Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
     
    kenneth fujioka, md
    Video
    Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
    Article
     
    Middle aged person
    Tool
    jennie brand miller
    Video
     

    Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
    Article
    type 2 diabetes
    Slideshow
     
    food fitness planner
    Tool
    feet
    Slideshow