ITS A BIG FAT WORLD

Problem

Nearly one third of the people on earth are considered overweight. There is no country in the world where people have avoided obesity rates and the trend has been tracked for over thirty years.

There is a fat chance that either you, or someone you know is obese. In fact more than 2 billion people are now overweight. The highest overweight areas are found in the midsections of the body, so it goes to show that the top culprits are the Middle East and North Africa. Here nearly 60 percent of men and 65 percent of women are fatties.

But we're still number one. USA has about 13 percent of the world's fluffy population, a larger percentage than any other country on earth. India and China combined have just 15 percent of fat Asians.

Fat has been villainous; but all fat was not created equal according to NIH.gov. Our two main types of fat—brown and white—play different roles. Now, two teams of NIH-funded researchers have enriched our understanding of adipose tissue. The first team discovered the genetic switch that triggers the development of brown fat, and the second figured out how the body can recruit white fat and transform it into brown.

Why would we want to change white fat into brown? White fat stores energy as large fat droplets, while brown fat has much smaller droplets and is specialized to burn them, yielding heat. Brown fat cells are packed with energy generating powerhouses called mitochondria that contain iron—which gives them their brown color. Infants are born with rich stores of brown fat (about 5% of total body mass) on the upper spine and shoulders to keep them warm. It used to be thought that brown fat disappeared by adulthood—but it turns out we harbor small reserves in our shoulders and neck.

"Weird Al" Yankovic-Fat (Official Music Video): http://youtu.be/xeYKN2TjHjs