Scientists believe that controlling the development of blood vessels in fat tissue may one day provide a new method of obesity treatment.
A study at Sweden's Karolinska Institute, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, found that mice which were exposed to low temperatures developed more blood vessels in their adipose (fat) tissue and were able to metabolise body fat more quickly.
Lead researcher Professor Yihai Cao hopes that it may be possible to combat obesity in humans by controlling the development of blood vessels.
He said: "This is the first time it's been shown that blood vessel growth affects the metabolic activity of adipose tissue rather than vice versa.
"If we can learn how to regulate the development of blood vessels in humans, we'd open up new therapeutic avenues for obesity and metabolic diseases like diabetes."
A recent government-commissioned report found that 22 per cent of English men and 24 per cent of women were obese in 2005.
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