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Fat cells and Obesity – How fat storage & distribution system works in weight loss

Updated on April 16, 2011

The problem of fat distribution is looked at from a different angle by some scientists. According to them there are small molecules on the surface of fat cells called alpha and beta receptors. The alpha receptors stimulate fat accumulation and the beta stimulate fat breakdown. Our fat cells have both receptors, but they vary depending upon which kind of receptor is predominant. They have found that fat cells of hips and thighs of women have predominant alpha receptors, i.e., they tend to accumulate fat. The drugs that can block alpha receptors (stop accumulation of) and/or stimulate beta receptors (to release fat) are being tried in laboratories. Thus, it is not enough to know how much extra you weigh, but the areas where you are carrying that extra weight are going to decide the complications you may have to suffer, and also the rate of your weight reduction.

Brown fat is another area which has created considerable interest among scientists. Brown fat depot is a different kind of fat. It has more blood supply and a pigment called cytochrome, which give it a brown appearance unlike the usual yellow. Brown fat actually burns up calorie instead of storing energy in the form of fat like the other usual fat cells. Thus, more brown fat means more burning of calorie by the body.

Unfortunately, brown fat is found only in animals (rats) so far, and not in humans. It's presence in human infants has been postulated but not proved conclusively. In rats, the body temperature of back (where brown fat is located) goes up after feeding. These rats, when overfed do not show expected rise in body weight. These findings indicate the role of brown fat in using up the calorie.

It has been hypothesized (but not proved) that people eating enormous quantities of food without gaining weight proportionately must be having this brown fat to burn up the extra calories and to counteract the effect of overfeeding.

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