Brown Adipose Burns More Calories When Exposed to Cold

April 28, 2020

A study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism says exposure to the cold for brief periods may help people with brown adipose tissue burn 15 percent more calories.

A study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism says exposure to the cold for brief periods may help people with brown adipose tissue burn 15 percent more calories.

Brown adipose burns calories through fatty acid oxidation and heat production making it a promising target in the fight against the obesity epidemic. The biggest activator of brown fat is moderate cold exposure.

The researchers identified two groups using a PET scan--those with and without active brown fat. They analyzed brown fat function and energy expenditure in these individuals before and after short-term cold exposure finding that the group with active brown fat not only burned significantly more calories but had a healthier fatty acid blood profile.

"This data improves our understanding of how brown fat works in humans," said the study's corresponding author, Florian W. Kiefer, M.D., Ph.D., of the Medical University of Vienna in Austria. "We found that individuals with active brown fat burned 20 more kilocalories than those without."

The authors say more research is needed to determine if brown fat can be protective against metabolic and cardiovascular disease.

The presence of active brown adipose tissue determines cold-induced energy expenditure and oxylipin profiles in humans. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, dgaa183, https://doi.org/10.1210/clinem/dgaa183  Published: 28 April 2020