Brown Fat Cooling Vest to Treat Childhood Obesity: Door Opens to Research

Research Opens Door to Study of Brown Fat Cooling Vest in Children

brown fat cooling vest

Childhood Obesity Crisis

As you can see in the above graph, Childhood obesity is perhaps the greatest health crisis facing the United States and the world. Recently published research which included the use of a brown fat cooling vest to activate brown adipose tissue, showed that less expensive, non-invasive readings of skin and core temperature may be used to study the effect mild cold exposure has on brown fat activity which could lead to the study of brown fat cooling for childhood obesity.1)1 To date measurement has involved radiation exposure using an MRI or PET scan, which would rule out studies involving children even though safe mild cold exposure using a cooling vest is a potentially safe, non-pharmaceutical treatment for childhood obesity and related metabolic disorders such as diabetes.

Brown adipose tissue (brown fat or BAT) has always played an important role in maintaining a steady state body temperature in mammals and has been newly discovered to have a role in people. Because BAT studies have shown the potential path towards new treatments for obesity and related metabolic disease like diabetes, new ways to research human BAT activity that are less expensive and invasive can lead to breakthroughs for our health. The most exciting opportunity is to open the door to studying the impact of mild cold exposure using a brown fat cooling vest for children that is safe, effective, and simple to use at an affordable cost.

Study Method Included Brown Fat Cooling Vest for Mild Cold

A trial was conducted that included 18 men who were divided into two groups. Using known PET and MRI methods of measurement, but adding measurements of skin temperature and body core temperature, the groups were 10 who already had pronounced BAT activity and 8 who had little to no BAT activity. Exposing these volunteers to mild cold using a combination of room temperature controls, liquid cooling vests and blankets, allowed the scientist to determine if skin and core temperature measurements could be used instead of PET and MRI methods.

Results of the study provided further proof that mild cold exposure triggers a response in brown fat in humans to maintain core body temperature just like any mammal. There was a strong correlation between the volume of brown fat in person and response to cold. Most significant was the finding that “…the significant correlation between the cold induced change in core and supraclavicular [skin temperature at the collar bone] temperature suggest those two measures as a potential [measure] of BAT activity.”

These safer, non-invasive, non-radiation, easier to perform and less expensive measurements of brown fat can open the door to the study of the effectiveness of treatments for obesity include the safe use of mild cooling with a brown fat cooling vest for children. This would provide an option in the near term to help fight the childhood obesity epidemic.

 

2) Chondronikola M, Volpi E, Børsheim E, Chao T, Porter C, Annamalai P, Yfanti C, Labbe SM, Hurren NM, Malagaris I, Cesani F and Sidossis LS (2016) Brown Adipose Tissue Is Linked to a Distinct Thermoregulatory Response to Mild Cold in People. Front. Physiol. 7:129. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2016.00129

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