Scientists Might Have Figured out How to Stop People from Getting Fat

Scientists discovered a newly-identified cell that can suppress the formation of fat cells. They hope understanding the mechanisms of these cells can help them treat a number of conditions such as diabetes and obesity.

For the study, published online now in Nature, scientists identified a type of precursor cell found in fat deposits in mice and humans that was previously unknown. The team identified this cell by looking at cell populations in fat tissue in mice. In doing so they noticed one type of cell in the fat tissue that did not create fat cells, but actually worked to prevent their creation. The cells were named Aregs, which stands for adipogenesis-regulatory cells, a statement said.

This picture taken on May 25, 2015 shows overweight people having exercise treatment at the Aimin (Love the People) Fat Reduction Hospital in the northern port city of Tianjin. Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images

When the researchers analyzed human fat cells, they also noted the presence of these new cells in human fat. Agreg cells are able to essentially control the formation of fat cells, and harnessing their abilities could have serious medical implications.

"Controlling fat cell formation is not only important for improving metabolic health," said Bart Deplancke, one of the study researchers, in a statement. "It could also be important for slowing aging, since several tissues, such as bone marrow and muscle, accumulate fat cells over time, which negatively affects their function."

In addition, controlling fat could also help with controlling obesity and type-2 diabetes. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2006-2016, 93.3 million adults in the U.S. were considered to be obese. This condition also leads to a number of health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and a number of cancers.

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects how the body turns food into energy, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and develops when your body cannot use insulin properly, The American Diabetes Association reported. This condition can be controlled with healthy eating and being active, but a way to control fat cells could provide further help.

According to the study, in addition to having important medical applications for humans, these findings also suggest there are many more types of human cells still not discovered.