New finding sheds light on why Americans can't lose weight
Scientists have uncovered a key protein that leads to obesity. The discovery shows it’s more than just diet and lack of exercise that turns ‘good’ or brown fat into the ‘bad’ type of white fat that might explain why so many Americans just can't seem to lose weight.
Researchers from Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute believe the protein p62 causes the body to store more fat and burn less energy, which could explain why some people have so much trouble losing weight even when they exercise more and eat less.
Brown fat is believed to help us burn calories. White fat is believed to be bad because it has the opposite effect and seems to self-perpetuate.
If the finding is true, it could me a new target for treating obesity, which is sorely needed to help curb rates of type 2 diabetes and other chronic illnesses.
Jorge Moscat, Ph.D., Sanford-Burnham professor said in a press release, “Without p62 you’re making lots of fat but not burning energy, and the body thinks it needs to store energy.”
Moscat and his team discovered mice that lacked the p62 protein just in fat tissue had metabolic syndrome and were obese, leading them to suspect it plays a key role in obesity. They previously bred mice lacking p62 in all tissue.
The goal was to find out what tissue was responsible for shifting the balance between brown and white fat – is it the brain, the liver or muscle?
The mice also had diabetes and inflammation that’s associated with obesity.
The study shows a possible obesity target in fat tissue since it’s easy to access, compared to other parts of the body. The p62 protein, according to Moscat, is a ‘master regulator in fat metabolism”. When the body goes ‘haywire’, it’s harder to lose weight because there just isn't enough brown fat in our tissues to burn calories; suggested by the new study.
Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute
January 4, 2013
Image credit: Wikimedia commons