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Jan. 25 2012 12:00 AM

Brown adipose tissue (often known as brown fat) is a specialized tissue that burns calories to generate body heat in rodents and newborn humans, neither of which shiver. Recently, adult humans have also been found to possess brown fat. This fact piqued the interest of researchers seeking to combat the obesity epidemic, the thought being that if they could develop ways to increase the amount of brown fat a person has, that person will become slimmer. One hitch to this idea is it has never actually been shown definitively that brown fat in adult humans can burn energy. Now, a team of researchers - led by Andre C. Carpentier, at Universite de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec; and Denis Richard, at Universite Laval, Quebec City, Quebec - has provided this evidence, showing that when healthy adult men are exposed to cold their brown fat burns energy to generate body heat. However, it did not burn energy at warm temperatures.


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