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The human body contains small amounts of a calorie-burning tissue called brown fat (brown adipose tissue, BAT) that converts food energy directly into heat. White fat does the opposite— it stores energy. Brown fat accounts for as much as 10 percent of the fat mass in people living in cold climates, such as northern Finland. Individual differences in BAT content and activity plays an important role in human obesity. Energy metabolism works through a series of coupled reactions. This means that energy released by breaking down fats, carbohydrates and proteins is captured in other reactions, such as making ATP (a high-energy chemical) or storing fats and carbohydrates. Uncoupling occurs when the energy from food breakdown is released as heat instead of capturing it as ATP. Brown fat converts food energy directly into heat. Drug and supplement makers, such as Advanced Molecular Labs with the product Thermo Heat, are targeting uncoupling in brown fat and other cells to increase metabolic rate, which will help people control body fat.


(Journal Internal Medicine, doi: 10.1111/joim.12255, 2014)