Army wants weight-loss shortcut, will try injecting you with fat

Faced with a society that's getting chubbier by the Twinkie, the Army has been looking for a way to get itself more recruits that doesn't involve (additional) lowering of its physical fitness requirements. So what has the Army come up with? Why, transplanting extra fat cells into the body to make people insta-skinny, of course. I mean, duh.

Your body has two kinds of fat inside: white fat (or, adipose tissue if you prefer), and brown fat. The white fat is the fat that you think of as fat: the chub, as it were. Brown fat, on the other hand, appears to be a type of fat that exists to turn stored energy into heat to keep you warm. Babies have a bunch of it, as do most hibernating mammals, since it's a way of generating heat without shivering. As adults, we lose most of our brown fat, but the little we have left turns out to be very, very good at taking just that white fan and, effectively, lighting it on fire.

A recent study (which you can read about here) found that just a few ounces of brown fat in adults exposed to cold temperatures (chilly, but not so cold as to cause them to shiver) could burn an extra 250 calories over three hours and increase metabolic action by 80%. Sounds like good stuff, right? The Army thinks so, and it's funding research that aims to skip right to the payoff by growing brown fat in the lab and then implanting it into humans and chilling them as a method of fast weight loss without exercise.

The Army isn't alone in its interest in injectable weight loss: a company called Ember Pharmaceuticals has raised $34 million for research into drugs that would convert your white fat into brown fat directly. A lot more research is needed before any of this actually happens, of course, and losing fat isn't going to magically make you healthy. It'll help, though, and for people who like the idea of a miracle weight-loss treatment, brown fat could eventually be it, whether or not you're in the Army.

Via Danger Room

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