Could brown fat cure obesity?

In my previous blog post on thermal dieting, I discussed how exposure to cold temperatures can potentially ramp up fat metabolism. In figuring out what makes this possible physiologically, scientists have pinpointed brown fat as the gatekeeper. Distinct from white fat, the stuff that gym memberships are made of, brown adipose tissue is chock-full of energy-chomping mitochondria (these iron-packed structures give the tissues its brown color, in fact) that kick into gear when the body's internal temperature drops in order to generate heat. That way, when the mercury plummets, brown fat chows down on calories and fat cells. Rather cannibalistic, eh?

Fat Stigma Going Global

Surveying 680 adults in 10 countries and territories about body mass, the researchers concluded that "a profound global diffusion of negative ideas about obesity" has taken place. As a result, we may be headed toward a universal body norm. In other words, thin is becoming in -- everywhere.

When it comes to shedding pounds, men have an advantage: They lose weight faster and more easily than women do. Why? In this episode, Molly and Cristen examine the many variables that affect weight loss in general -- and female weight loss in particular.

In this episode of Stuff Mom Never Told You, Molly and Cristen take a look at current ways of measuring obesity. They discuss the most common formula, Body Mass Index (BMI), in detail, from its origins to its flaws.

Women shopping for clothes often find that sizes are less than standard. Why the confusing system? Learn more about the history -- and future -- of women's clothing sizes in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

When sleep eludes you, are you more prone to put on pounds? Science says yes. Explore the link between sleep and obesity in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.