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Health and fat’s excess energy

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2013 - Spring


Yale scientists have found that excess energy is packaged into fundamentally different fat deposits, which are associated with many health problems linked to being overweight.

“The cell’s inability to process all the excess energy—not the accumulation of fat itself—is what causes most health problems,” said Tobias Walther, Ph.D., associate professor of cell biology and senior author of the study published online February 13 in the journal Developmental Cell. Health problems start when molecules linked to fat synthesis overwhelm cells, rendering them unable to store energy as fat. That storage failure leads to inflammation, insulin resistance, fatty liver, and other problems associated with obesity.

Exploring ways to prevent failure of the cells’ ability to accommodate excess energy may be a more effective way to tackle the health problems associated with obesity than simply trying to get rid of fat itself, Walther said. “Historically, concentrating on just burning fat has not worked too well,” he said.