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HOME > PAST ISSUE > July-August 2014 > Article Detail

FEATURE ARTICLE

Can Skinny Fat Beat Obesity?

Newly discovered in adult mammals, beige fat cells can switch between accumulating fat and burning it, depending on metabolic needs.

Philip A. Rea, Peter Yin, Ryan Zahalka

2014-07ReaFp273.jpgClick to Enlarge ImageThere’s more to body fat than meets the eye. Most people by now have got the message that an excess of adipose tissue, or white fat, can lead to diabetes and heart disease. Its near opposite is brown fat, the essence of plumpness in a healthy baby; this type of fat is high in iron and holds crucial stores of energy. Most recently has come the startling discovery of a third type, so-called beige fat cells, which can switch their function from accumulating fat to burning it for energy. Scientists are just beginning to understand the basis of this amazing versatility, as Rea and his colleagues describe.


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