A chemical switch in the brain tells the body to burn fat after a meal, a new study has revealed.
Scientists at Monash University in Australia have found a mechanism in the brain that specifically links eating with using energy.
Laboratory models show that the mechanism, which is called browning, turns on after a meal to burn energy and turns off in between meals to conserve it.
The discovery provides a potential novel target for the treatment of obesity, a major risk factor for things like heart disease, diabetes, liver disease and multiple forms of cancer.
A chemical switch in the brain tells the body to burn fat after a meal, a new study has revealed. The discovery provides a potential novel target for the treatment of obesity, a major risk factor for things like heart disease, diabetes, liver disease and multiple forms of cancer (stock image)
'What our studies have shown is that there is a fundamental mechanism at play that normally ensures that energy expenditure is matched with energy intake,' explained lead author Professor Tony Tiganis.
'When this is defective, you put on more weight. Potentially we may be able to rewire this mechanism to promote energy expenditure and weight loss in obese individuals.'
Researchers examined brain scans of mice and found that eating a meal controls the browning of fat.
Browning refers to the conversion of energy-storing fat (white fat) into energy-expending fat (brown).
Fat is stored in specialized cells in the human body called adipocytes, which change from white to brown, storing and expending energy, then back again throughout the day.
Being obese in childhood raises the risk of heart attacks and strokes much later in life, a major study has found.
Children who were obese at the age of 10 were shown to have damaged arteries 25 years later - even if they lost weight in the intervening years.
The findings, by scientists at the University of Surrey, found obese children were more likely to develop pre-diabetes, thickened arteries and high blood pressure as adults - all problems which raise the risk of heart disease, strokes and other cardiovascular problems later in life.