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  • Want to Loose Some Weight? Socialize More

    [caption id="attachment_3007" align="alignleft" width="287" caption="Socializing can lead to weight loss"]loose weight[/caption]

     

    In a recent study, scientists determined that when mice were socializing more with other mice, they lost more fat than those that were alone. Now I know what you're thinking, mice and men are not equal, and how could this be true, but if you put aside the difference between the two, you can realize that this theory is very accurate. When you are alone, you don't have anyone remarking on your actions: you could eat more food, sit on the couch longer, and not leave the house. Alice Park of Time Magazine discusses this further in her article "Could Socializing Help Keep You Thin."

    Could the key to weight loss be as simple as spending more time with others?

    It could, at least if you're a mouse. In a paper published in Cell Metabolism, researchers report that mice that were placed in more socially engaging environments lost more fat than mice living in standard, lonelier lab conditions.

    The key may have to do with so-called brown fat. Unlike unwanted white fat, the kind that tends to accumulate around the middle, brown fat cells contain dark-colored energy-burning mitochondria, which use up calories instead of storing them — their primary purpose is to regulate body temperature by burning energy for heat. Humans are born with significant deposits of brown fat, the better to maintain body temperature outside the womb, but those stores diminish with age.

    Retaining more brown fat, however, has been linked to better weight control (see here and here): in previous studies, researchers have shown that mice engineered with brown fat genes tend to be leaner than those missing the gene, and in people, scientists have observed that obese individuals tend to have less brown fat than leaner folks. And some recent research has suggested that there are things adults can do to boost levels of brown fat, like turning down the thermostat and encouraging the body to warm itself.

    Now Lei Cao and researchers at Ohio State University have found another potential way to take advantage of brown fat and help keep a leaner physique. When Cao and her colleagues  put mice in socially challenging environments — those that contained 15 to 20 animals, along with running wheels, toys, tunnels and a maze — they found that the animals were able to transform more of their white fat into calorie-gobbling brown fat. These mice lost more abdominal fat than control mice and, when fed a high-fat diet, gained less weight.

    The researchers think there's something about the particular stresses of living in an enriched environment that may force white fat cells to activate certain cellular pathways and receptors, and to behave more like brown fat. "Our results show that if we have some degree of activation of the sympathetic nervous system, [which is responsible for our fight-or-flight response], then that drives white fat to switch to [become more like] brown fat," says Dr. Matthew During, professor of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics at Ohio State who is senior author of the paper.

    Read more at Time Healthland
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