Chemical switch affects the body's fat burning
Researchers have now found a chemical switch in the brain that signals the body to start burning fat after a meal. This discovery could open up new opportunities for treating obesity in the future.
In their investigation, the scientists at Monash University discovered that there is a chemical switch in the brain that initiates the body's fat burning process. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Cell Metabolism".
Tampering with the switch could result in weight loss
The fundamental mechanism found in our study typically ensures that energy expenditure matches energy intake, explains author Professor Tony Tiganis of Monash University. If this switch is defective, those affected gain more weight. Potentially, medical professionals could influence this mechanism to promote energy consumption and weight loss in overweight people.
White fat is converted to brown fat
In their investigation, the researchers found that after a meal, the brain reacts to what is known as circulating insulin. Insulin levels rise as blood sugar increases. This happens after eating food. Insulin causes the brain to send signals that convert white fat to brown fat. The experts explain how energy from the brown fat can be obtained for the body.
Certain processes are designed to help the body maintain a stable body weight
After a meal, the brain signals that the fat-storing cells (adipocytes) convert back to white fat. This is how energy should be stored. Both processes prevent both excessive weight gain and excessive weight loss and help the body maintain a stable body weight.
Stored energy is consumed after meals
The researchers have now found that the ability of the human brain to detect insulin and coordinate energy expenditure during meals is controlled by a chemical switch. After a meal, the mechanism is switched off again, so the conversion can be promoted to consume stored energy.
The chemical switch does not change in obese people
When people are obese, the switch does not change, and the body cannot use energy or burn fat, the scientists explain. In other words, in the case of obesity, the switch stays in one position all the time, the switch does not change over at mealtimes, explains Professor Tiganis. As a result, the conversion of white fat cells to brown fat cells remains off all the time. In addition, the energy consumption is reduced all the time. When eating meals, there is no adequate increase in energy expenditure, this promotes weight gain, the experts explain.
Doctors hope to be able to inhibit the chemical switch
The scientists now hope to be able to inhibit the switch found for therapeutic purposes in order to promote the processing of excess fat. This could help fight the global obesity epidemic. Obesity is an important and leading factor for numerous diseases worldwide. In addition, for the first time in modern world history, the onset of obesity has reduced people's overall life expectancy, says Professor Tiganis. (as)