Understanding Fat-Burning Process in Depth

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Obesity is a condition wherein excessive body fats are accumulated and posts detrimental effects on health. The tool used to determine obesity is the body mass index (BMI), a measurement which compares weight and height,; it is considered as pre-obese if their BMI is between 25 and 30 kg/m2, and obese when it is greater than 30 kg/m2.

This medical health condition leads to lower life expectancy as well as different health problems like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea (inability to breath due to obstruction when in sleep), certain types of cancer, and osteoarthritis. Causes that may brought about obesity are combinations of the following: excessive food energy intake, lack of physical activity, and genetic susceptibility, although a few cases are caused primarily by genes, endocrine disorders, medications or psychiatric illness.

However, physical exercise and proper diet are the major treatment of this condition even there are also available medication treatments that the market presently offers. It is indeed alarming to know that statistics shows childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. An estimated 17 percent of children and adolescents (ages 2-19 years) are obese in the U.S.

In connection with this current health problem, researchers at the University of Oslo have discovered central component of fat metabolism. As mentioned, it is well known that exercise results in “fat burning.” Physical activity and fight-or-flight responses increase the levels of hormones like adrenaline, inducing the metabolism of fat. However, the mystery on this mechanism remains uncovered until the discovery of the Lipid Droplet (LD).

Researchers discussed that fats are stored inside fat cells within specialized compartments known as “lipid droplets” (LD), and their metabolism requires the cooperative action of several different proteins. Not only must these proteins act together, they must also be found within close physical proximity on the surface of the lipid droplets. This clustering of proteins is achieved by what are called anchoring proteins. The essential role of the anchoring protein OPA1 in lipid metabolism was recently demonstrated by researchers in the Taskén group, and the study published in the EMBO Journal.

Dr. Greenberg and colleagues from Harvard and Stanford University underlined on the importance of these findings in a research highlight: “The observation of [OPA1] on the LD surface provides an important step in understanding the regulation of LD biology.” “It has taken a long time to sort this out.” said Group Leader, Professor Kjetil Taskén. “In fact, the publication of this paper summarizes the work of two postdoctoral researchers and two PhD students over a period of more than seven years.”

The proponents of the research are primarily aiming not only to help the prevention of obesity-related health problems but also to focus more on the lipid droplet biology. With this, it can contribute to a wider scope of health.

 

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