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Brown Fat Keeps Blood Sugar in Check

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Brown fat, which burns energy to produce heat, may also help to keep blood sugar steady in adults.

Researchers at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research have found that individuals with more brown fat had smaller fluctuations in blood sugar. The findings open new avenues for diabetes therapies that target brown fat.

Unlike white fat, which primarily stores energy, brown fat burns energy – often in remarkably large amounts. Sitting just above the collarbone and in the neck, it acts like a heat generator, helping to keep us warm by burning sugar and fat.

Dr Paul Lee and A/Prof Jerry Greenfield found that blood glucose levels and heat production by brown fat were closely related, tracking together over time. Importantly, participants who had larger deposits of brown fat had less fluctuation in blood glucose – and blood glucose fell after each peak of brown fat activity surge.

In contrast, brown fat activity rose only in response to an increase in blood glucose among those with less brown fat, and their glucose fluctuations were greater. Notably, individuals with no detectable brown fat had the widest fluctuations in blood glucose.

“Our findings indicate that brown fat might act as a glucose buffer, lessening the variation in blood glucose and potentially diminishing metabolic stresses that could increase the risk of diabetes,” Lee said....

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.