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Obesity and Weight Management

Brown fat

07/25/2007

Question:

Although I am not significately overweigt(about twenty pounds) I have a fat "hump" above my shoulders and behind my neck. I have been told that it is a brown fat deposit. I am also noticing it on my 13 year old. Diet does not seem to reduce it`s size. Is this genetic? Is there something I can do to reduce it?

Answer:

It is very unlikely that the hump you have noticed on your back is brown fat. Brown fat, a type of adipose (fat) tissue richly supplied by blood capillaries is usually found in infants. Brown fat makes up to 5% of their body fat, helping to keep the infant warm by generating heat energy. By adulthood, brown fat almost all disappears. Rarely, a prominent hump on the back referred to as a 'buffalo hump' can be seen in a condition called Cushings syndrome. In Cushings syndrome, the body is exposed to high levels of a steroid called cortisol for a long time. This syndrome is associated with other symptoms and physical signs which your physician can recognize.

The hump on the back is most likely because of the generalized increase in fat tissue you have with your excess weight. I would recommend you consider a weight management program centered on diet and physical activity to help you tackle your weight gain.

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Response by:

Ihuoma U Eneli, MD Ihuoma U Eneli, MD
Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics
Medical Director of the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University