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Obesity & Energy

May 29, 2008

Researchers look inside the cell for a possible obesity treatment.


Wasting your way to a smaller waist. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Eat less to lose weight. It sounds like good advice, but most people eventually gain it all back. This is partly because eating less results in lower energy expenditure in our cells. Energy from food we eat is converted into a molecule called ATP. ATP then powers processes like cellular respiration and division. And the less ATP the cell burns up, the more energy is stored as fat, which counteracts weight loss. But researcher Sander Wijers of Maastricht University in the Netherlands and his colleagues recently found that when people get cold, more energy is required to warm up, so the body stores less as fat. This process is called mitochondrial uncoupling.

SANDER WIJERS (Maastricht University):
That energy usually makes ATP it now just can be wasted as heat.

He says this insight could lead to obesity-fighting drugs in the future. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.