Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Brown Fat Can Burn Off More Than 9 Pounds of Bad Fat Each Year

April 8, 2009 -- By activating the brown fat in your body, you could lose 9 pounds or more of bad white fat every year -- without having to eat less or exercise more.

Until recently, scientists thought adults didn't have brown fat. They thought it was there to help babies keep their bodies warm and went away as the body became more muscular.

But three new studies in the New England Journal of Medicine now show that more than half of adult men and women have enough brown fat in their bodies to burn off substantial amounts of white fat -- if the brown fat somehow is stimulated.

For example, Kirsi A. Virtanen, MD, PhD, of the University of Turku, Finland, and colleagues analyzed brown fat in five young men. One of the men had about 2.2 ounces of brown fat.

"If the brown [fat] in this example were fully activated, it would burn an amount of energy equivalent to approximately 4.1 kilograms [9 pounds]" of fat over the course of a year, the researchers calculate.

And that's a low estimate, as this assumes only 50% activation of the brown fat.

Brown Fat and Health

Scientists became aware of brown fat in adults because it's a problem for PET scans. Activated brown fat shines brightly in the scans, making it hard for doctors to see what they're looking for. Technicians have come up with several ways -- such as giving patients beta-blocker drugs -- to prevent brown fat activation.

As researchers looked into the mysteries of brown fat, they found that it is more closely related to muscle than to white fat. And recent studies suggested it might be possible to make the body produce more brown fat.

How does it work? Brown fat becomes activated when you're cold. Virtanen and colleagues took advantage of this in their study: The five volunteers underwent PET scans after spending two hours under-dressed in a cold room, with one foot soaking intermittently in a bucket of ice water.

Activated brown fat burns white fat as fuel. It's a very inefficient process that gives off heat -- and consumes a lot of fat.

Healthy Recipe Finder

Browse our collection of healthy, delicious recipes, from WebMD and Eating Well magazine.

Top searches: Chicken, Chocolate, Salad, Desserts, Soup

Heart Rate Calculator

Ensure you're exercising hard enough to get a good workout, but not strain your heart.

While you are exercising, you should count between...