We know them best for their ability to calm down swelling and inflammation, but ice packs are being praised for aiding weight loss. We humans have two types of fat tissue: white and brown. While white fat is the type we find in flabby areas like the stomach and thighs brown fat is used by the body to generate heat by circulating in the blood.
Now scientists at the University of Kentucky School of Medicine in Lexington, are claiming that by strapping an ice pack to a fatty area for just 30 minutes, we can turn white fat into ‘beige’ fat, which could be used to aid weight loss.
“Browning fat tissue would be an excellent defence against obesity. It would result in the body burning extra calories rather than converting them into additional fat tissue,” said one of the study’s co-authors, Dr Philip Kern.
The team took thigh fat tissue samples from 16 people after they held an ice pack on their skin for half an hour, surveying the specific genetic markers that showed which kind of fat was present.
Their results found elevated levels of three genetic markers which are associated with beige or brown fat. Later, the team studied belly fat tissue samples from 55 people in winter and then in summer. Their findings showed that the belly fat tissue was higher in beige fat during the winter, compared to the summer months.
Kern and his team also discovered that the ice packs performed better in converting fat tissue in slim people rather than obese people.