Breakthrough study at Wash U could let you lose weight without d -

Breakthrough study at Wash U could let you lose weight without diet or exercise

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Credit: KMOV Credit: KMOV

ST. LOUIS ( -- Medical researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have made a remarkable discovery that could possibly help combat the obesity epidemic in the United States.

"We are interested in finding ways to convert white fat into brown fat," said Dr. Irfan Lodi, an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Lipid Research at Washington University.

The difference between the two types of fat cells can be simplified by stating white fat cells store calories while brown fat cells can actually generate heat and burn calories.

While researching on mice, Dr. Lodhi and his team discovered a protein-that, when blocked, makes white fat behave more like brown fat.

"These mice were leaner even though they ate the same amount of food. They burnt more calories and they had more of this brown like fat in their bodies" said Lodhi.

While the discovery in mice is groundbreaking, Lodhi states that they "have to see if we can safely target this protein in humans safely without side effects." The next step would be to see if the same results can be reproduced in humans, but researchers would need to find a safe way to do that without causing a person to overheat or develop a fever.

Lodhi believes "it could be a possible treatment for obesity."

Critics of a quick fix for fat and weight loss remain skeptical. Whitney Linsenmeyer is a registered dietitian at St. Louis University.

"So there's a term that's being used in the literature now called an-"obese-genic" environment. Which basically means we are set up for failure" said Linsenmeyer.

She says many Americans have to deal with a sedentary work environment with driving to work and sitting at a desk all day. That coupled with easy access to low nutrient food means the odds of dropping weight in the United States are against most people.

"It's estimated that 95 percent of those that try to lose weight on a typical hypo-caloric diet will end up gaining that weight back in 5 years," said Linsenmeyer.

As for the findings of the research Linsenmeyer thinks "in the perspective of something innovative, it's interesting. I don't see that as being the solution to the obesity epidemic."

Dietitians and the researchers at Washington University say a change in your diet and exercise is best for long term weight loss, but Dr. Lodhi says this discovery could be beneficial in the future for people who may not be able to diet or exercise.

Link to study

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