Are you thin or fat? If you squirm, fidget and tap your toesand fingers, you’re probably thin. If you’re always findingsomething to do, like shopping or cleaning the basement, andrarely sit down and watch TV, you’re also probably thin. Allthese activities boost your NEAT?your “non-exercise activitythermogenesis.”

Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic reports in the journalScience that NEAT is much more effective than going to thegym. NEAT is what really determines who will be thin and whowill be obese. Obese people sit, on average, 150 minutesmore each day than naturally thin people, meaning obesepeople burn 350 fewer calories a day. “Our patients have told us for years that they have lowmetabolism, and as caregivers, we have never quiteunderstood what that means?until today,” says Dr. Levine.”The answer is they have low NEAT, which means they have abiological need to sit more. A person can expend calorieseither by going to the gym, or through everyday activities.Our study shows that the calories that people burn in theireveryday activities?their NEAT?are far, far more importantin obesity than we previously imagined.”

It’s not that obese people don?t have the motivation todiet. “It most likely reflects a brain chemical differencebecause our study shows that even when obese people loseweight they remain seated the same number of minutes perday,” says Levine. “They don’t stand or walk more. Andconversely, when lean people artificially gain weight, theydon?t sit more. So the NEAT appears to be fixed. But asphysicians, we can use this data to help our obese patientsovercome low NEAT by guiding the treatment of obesity towarda focus on energy as well as food. We can encourageNEAT-seeking behaviors.”

In order to detect even the smallest toe tap, Mayo Clinicresearchers invented a movement monitoring system thatincorporates technology used in fighter-jet control panels.They embedded sensors in customized undergarments for bothmen and women. The test subjects went about their normalroutines during the study period. Only two things wereforbidden: swimming and eating food the research center didnot prepare.

For the next part of the study, the researchers overfed theskinny people by 1,000 calories a day to make them gainweight, and underfed the obese people by 1,000 calories aday in an intense diet. Even after losing weight, thenaturally obese group sat more and moved less. And evenafter gaining weight, the naturally lean group stood, walkedand fidgeted more than the other group. This gives greathope to researchers trying to devise diets because, asLevine says, “Unlike running a marathon, NEAT is within thereach of everyone.”

Story Source: Newswise. Photo Credit:

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