Researchers at Tufts University in US bred a strain of mice born without the gene that codes for perilipin-2, a protein that regulates the storage of fat within cells. (Agencies)
They offered those mice, along with a genetically conventional group, the equivalent of a Western diet - sugary, high-fat food - and let them eat their fill.
After 12 weeks, the mice lacking perilipin-2 had gained significantly less weight than the control group, which, as expected, continued to eat hungrily. The perilipin-2-free mice ate less in comparison, and even moved around more.
They also had all the health advantages that go along with being lean: smaller fat cells, less inflammation, lower triglyceride levels and better insulin sensitivity, according to an article on Tufts Nutrition magazine.
In addition to eating less and moving more, the genetically altered mice appeared to have more brown fat cells, which, unlike typical white fat cells, actually have the ability to burn calories.
Since humans also carry the perilipin gene, the findings eventually could lead to ways to fight obesity and diabetes.
"This is an exciting observation because it provides an opportunity to identify new pathways that modulate food intake, physical activity and potentially, metabolism of fat," said Andrew Greenberg, the Atkins Professor in Nutrition and Metabolism at Tufts School of Medicine.
Researchers at Tufts University in US bred a strain of mice born without the gene that codes for perilipin-2, a protein that regulates the storage of fat within cells.