Illustration for article titled Socializing can help you lose weight (if youre a mouse)

Want to shed some pounds? It's not that difficult if you can leave your limited environment for one where you're challenged and interact with more people. At least with mice, changing habitat to one that's more social and offers a wider variety of activities led to a remarkable physical transformation. Much of the rodents' white fat turned to brown fat, and then the mice lost their fat altogether.


If you're not aware of the difference between the two, white fat is what your body uses for long term storage, and can be remarkably hard to get rid of. Brown fat is the stuff our bodies burn up quickly in order to generate heat.

The researchers used mice that had been living a pleasant, if restrictive life. They had unlimited food and water, a handful of playmates, and not much else. Then they moved the mice to a larger space with 15-20 companions, plenty of room, toys to play with, mazes to navigate, and wheels to run on. After four weeks, the mice lost as much as 50% of their abdominal fat.


The researchers believe that the switch to a more enriched environment triggered an increase in the mouse brain's production of a growth factor known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). The change was far more than could be accounted for by any change in physical activity between the two locations.

If you needed another reason to leave a job you hate, get out of the house more, and actually do something that you love around other people, I can't think of a better one than this.

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