In a breakthrough study done by scientists at University of Alberta have shown that the fat cells lying just beneath the skin surface shrink on being exposed to blue light from sun.
It was found that when the blue light emitted by sun penetrated skin layers and interacted with fat cells present just beneath the skin, lipid droplets decreased in size and were released from the cell. This has helped the scientists in postulating the hypothesis that insignificant exposure to sunlight might be the reason behind fat storage and subsequent increase in the body weight, especially seen during winter months. The intensity and duration of light required to activate this pathway for losing weight is still not understood completely.
This mechanism has the potential to be explored for pharmacological or light-based treatments meant for obesity and other related health issues like diabetes. It is speculated that this mechanism might contribute in setting the number of fat cells that are produced in childhood and are thought to be carried over to adulthood.
There is a lot of evidence that suggests that the current generation will be more overweight than its previous generation and therefore, it is important to determine the healthy amount of sunshine exposure that will aid in weight loss.
The discovery was made while investigating the mechanism for bioengineering fat cells to produce insulin in response to light for helping Type I diabetes patients. The reaction was noticed in human tissues present in a negative control experiment. It was also postulated that the cells present near the skin act as peripheral biological clock, and just as light perceived through eyes controls body’s circadian rhythm, it can also have an impact on fat cells. The scientists discovered this molecular pathway as being activated through the eye when it was exposed to blue wavelength of sunlight. This is the reason it is not advised to look at digital devices before going to bed as they emit the same blue light as that of sun and signals the body to wake up.
In the same way, humans shed the weight gained during winters when summer arrives. It is also thought to be a process supported by the evolution as unlike other mammals, the fat in the human body is evenly spread out just beneath the skin.
This novel discovery will pave the way for unfolding many scientific avenues for further exploration and some day would lead to light-based treatments for obesity.