Why Fat is Phat

The body's most maligned cells are actually critically valuable players
By Caroline Miller,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 7, 2007 10:09 AM CDT
Microscopic fat cells seen in close up.   (health.gov)
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(Newser) – Fat is underappreciated, New York Times health columnist Natalie Angier writes: just because a lot of people now have too much of it doesn't mean it should be villified. The fat cell is in fact a marvel of science, a sophisticated mechanism finely tailored not only for energy storage but to exchange complex chemical messages.

“We used to think of an adipose cell as an inert storage depot,” one researchers says. “Now we appreciate that it is an endocrine organ,” secreting 20 different hormones. And it's not responsible for obesity. “Obesity is not due to any defect in adipose tissue per se," explained one scientist. "It's an issue of energy balance." Besides, the fact that humans have a relatively high percentage of fat may have played a key role in the evolution of our giant brains.