Diabetes researchers look for new ways to help shed pounds

    Most adults with Type 1 diabetes fail to meet weight-loss and blood-glucose goals recommended by doctors.

    That is according to the country’s most comprehensive analysis of people with the disease in findings announced at the American Diabetes Association’s Scientific Sessions in Philadelphia.

    Some researchers at the conference hope a key to weight loss in the future might be “brown fat,” which until recently was thought only to be active in hibernating animals and babies.

    In 2009 Dr Aaron Cypess, a researcher at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, was on a team that found  brown fat burns calories to generate heat in adults too. Most adults have small amounts of it, along with the much more predominant “white fat.”

    For the past few years, Cypess and others have been trying to figure out how to turn that discovery into an avenue for weight loss.

    “The big part of the research is to find out if this tissue can be activated and lead to improvement in one’s weight and an improvement in the glucose and cholesterol levels in the blood,” Cypess said.

    Last week, he published a study showing that 10 patients who wore a special cooling vest increased brown fat activation and burned more calories.

    Eventually, researchers hope to find foods or drugs that safely activate brown fat in a similar way.

    Dr. Kevin Williams, head of endocrinology at Temple University, said he would be all for a magic pill to boost brown fat action if current research ever develops into a usable therapy.

    But, for now, doctors know that diet and exercise work in managing weight, and that has to be the priority message to get to patients.

    “That has to be the first second and third and 10th things on our list,” Williams said.

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