UV exposure can be a tool to combat obesity

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Obesity and related metabolic disorders are increasingly recognized as major public health challenges worldwide.

In a recent groundbreaking study, dermatologists have discovered that ultraviolet (UV) light exposure might have more benefits than just aiding in vitamin D synthesis—it could also play a role in regulating appetite and body weight.

The research, published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, was conducted by a team from the Department of Dermatology at Seoul National University Hospital.

Drs. Qing-Ling Quan and Eun Ju Kim, who led the study, explored how UV exposure could affect weight management.

They found that UV light increases levels of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that can decrease appetite-regulating leptin levels and induce changes in subcutaneous fat that increase energy expenditure.

These changes are collectively known as the “browning” of fat, a process where the body’s fat stores convert to heat rather than storing calories.

The study was prompted by previous findings indicating that UV exposure might limit weight gain in obese mice.

The researchers expanded on this by observing that UV exposure could modify the metabolism of subcutaneous fat—an essential tissue in maintaining energy balance—despite UV rays not directly reaching these fat stores when exposed to the skin.

In their experiments, mice exposed to UV light showed an increase in appetite but did not gain weight, even on a high-fat diet.

The team attributed this to the enhanced secretion of norepinephrine, which not only reduces leptin but also activates the energy-burning processes in subcutaneous fat.

The energy from increased food intake was thus converted to heat before it could be stored as body fat, effectively preventing weight gain.

These findings offer new insights into the potential of UV light as a preventive and therapeutic tool in obesity and metabolic disease management.

Dr. Jin Ho Chung, another lead researcher, emphasized the significance of their discovery, stating that understanding how UV exposure adjusts energy metabolism could lead to novel dietary regulation and weight management strategies.

This could significantly impact approaches to health and obesity management, potentially improving outcomes for many.

However, the researchers caution against unrestricted UV exposure due to its known risks, such as skin aging and cancer.

They highlight the importance of balancing UV benefits with these risks and are planning further studies to develop strategies that could mimic the effects of UV radiation without the associated dangers.

This could involve creating new therapeutic methods that harness the beneficial aspects of UV exposure while minimizing harm, offering a promising new direction in obesity treatment.

If you care about weight loss, please read studies that hop extract could reduce belly fat in overweight people, and early time-restricted eating could help lose weight .

For more information about weight loss, please see recent studies that Mediterranean diet can reduce belly fat much better, and Keto diet could help control body weight and blood sugar in diabetes.

The research findings can be found in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

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