Thermal Imaging May Aid Battle Against Obesity

ICTMN Staff
8/1/12

Researchers at The University of Nottingham are testing thermal imaging—a heat-seeking, non-invasive technology—that can trace human bodies to distinguish between reserves of brown fat—the good, and white fat—the bad, reported Science Daily.

Brown fat helps bodies to quickly burn calories as energy. It also produces 300 times more heat than all other body tissue. It's what keeps babies from freezing in the cold. Newborns are wrapped in brown fat to protect their central organs and keep them warm, easing their transition into the world from the womb, reported BBC News.

White fat is the kind that piles on the gut and doesn't want to leave.

With age, brown fat decreases. Scientists are trying to measure with thermal technology—to detect the heat in brown fat—weather children and adults maintain brown fat throughout life. Young children preserve brown fat in their necks.

Now Professor Michael Symonds aims to discover what factors might promote brown fat over white fat, and in turn prevent excess weight gain. "The more we know about what switches on brown fat the better. It may have an immediate effect which can be retained as you get older," he said.

One of the main goals of the examination is to determine whether one day they could create a thermogenic index for food labels that would indicate whether "whether that product would increase or decrease heat production within brown fat. In other words whether it would speed up or slow down the amount of calories we burn," Symonds said.

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