The discovery that adults retain small quantities of “brown fat”—which in infants burns calories to generate heat—has scientists exploring the possibility of using the substance as a weight-loss aid. Brown fat is exceedingly effective at burning sugar, so researchers theorize that boosted amounts of the substance may increase a person’s metabolism so greatly that a 50 gram injection may help someone lose 10 pounds.
Studies have shown that healthier people have more brown fat, but haven’t been able to determine whether the stuff is a symptom of better health, or a cause. In tests on mice, injections of brown fat burned off incoming calories as the animals ate. But brown fat’s ability to trigger decreases of white fat—the normal kind—in obese mice hasn’t been proven, the Los Angeles Times reports.