Health Watch — Managing Weight: The Source of Fat Cells

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications  and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we’ve been talking about ways to manage weight during the holiday season. Because obesity is such a big problem at all times of year, doctors are conducting research into the science behind weight gain. Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center have discovered where new fat cells come from.

Immature fat cells live in the walls of blood vessels that nourish fatty tissue. These cells are needed when a young person is growing or to replace dying fat cells when the person’s weight is stable. But when the body takes in more calories than it needs, these cells get fatter and produce more fat cells. Dr. Jonathan Graff, the UT Southwestern developmental biologist who led this study, says this knowledge may lead to ways to treat obesity, as well as ways to move these fat cells to where they might be needed in the body, such as to repair wounds or do breast reconstruction after cancer surgery.

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November 2008

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