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‘Good, brown fat’ and the battle of the bulge

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I don’t recall who said it, but last week during a local TV news segment, I heard a reporter use the term “good, brown fat” — an unusual combination of words for sure.

I made note of it thinking it might be either a meat recipe or instructions for making gravy, although I went online and found it was instead part of a medical advertisement.

Allow me to tell you about “good brown fat.”

According to an article by Ashley Marcin in the newsletter Healthline’s January 2018 edition, the fat in people’s bodies is made up of different colors and scientists have identified both brown and white fat.

Marcin said brown fat, also known as brown adipose tissue or good brown fat, is packed with iron-rich cells, which is how it gets its color.

On the other hand, white adipose tissue is the standard fat most of us are familiar with.

In humans, too much white fat can lead to obesity and too much white fat around the midsection may create a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and other diseases.

When brown fat burns, it creates heat and burns calories as part of a process called thermogenesis, Marcin wrote.

I may not be totally clear on all of this, so please bear with me as I continue.

The article stated there is not enough research to know for sure if exercise creates more brown fat and it will be awhile before doctors can hand out a pill or suggest another quick fix to convert white fat to brown.

According to Google, “brown fat makes up about 5 percent of a person’s body mass and is located on the back, along the upper half of the spine and toward the shoulders.”

Sounds more like the cut of meat on a hog, doesn’t it?

Based on the recommended body mass index calculator, which is what some experts use in determining if someone is overweight, almost everybody, including you and I, is fat.

Obese, which moves slightly beyond being just plain fat, is defined in the dictionary as “a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to an extent that it may have a negative effect on health. It is most commonly caused by a combination of excessive food intake, lack of physical activity and genetic susceptibility.”

No arguments there — as I have always especially enjoyed my “excessive food intake.”

Obesity is stigmatized in much of the modern world, though it was seen as a symbol of wealth and fertility at other times in history and still is in some parts of the world, according to sources gleaned from a Google search.

Here’s more to chew on, thanks to Wikipedia.

The social stigma of obesity or anti-fat bias has created negative psychosocial impacts and has caused disadvantages for overweight and obese people.

Fat activists allege anti-fat bias can be found in many facets of society and blame the media for the pervasiveness of this phenomenon.

See, in addition to all-you-can eat buffet lines, we can also blame the newspapers.

We’ll finish on a politically correct note by quoting MacMillan Dictionary, which says “a person who is fat has too much flesh on his body and weighs too much. It is not polite to call someone fat.”

Fine, we’ll just use some other terms or euphemisms that mean fat.

Since I have included myself among this group, maybe we can all enjoy the list together.

Fat, overweight, corpulent, hefty, well-filled out, larder, plump, portly, chubby, rotund, roly-poly, gross, stout, fleshy, outsized, massive, heavy-set.

Also, paunchy, husky, full-figured, full-bodied, burly, meaty, butterball, brawny, thick-set, solid, chunky, swollen, big-boned, stout, rotund, whale-like, fat slob, blimp, bulging, pot-bellied, beer-bellied, chunky, big, large, ample, well-upholstered, well-padded, large and in charge, broad in the beam, bulky, bloated, flabby, Falstaffian, stocky, porky, pudgy, tubby, blubbery, well-fed, ample, portly, heavyset, husky, lard-arsed, round, dumpy, cherubic and buoyant.

Just pick out a few that you feel work best for you and try them on for size.

For myself, at least for now, I think I’ll go with stocky, big-boned, chunky and well-fed.

Keith Barnes is a reporter and columnist for the Johnstonian News. Email him at