Excess white fat around the abdominal organs is linked to health problems including type 2 diabetes

Thought all fat was the same? here, we look at the three types lurking under your skin . . .

White fat: This is the familiar, yellow-ish fat that you put on if you eat too many calories — the stuff you can pinch. As well as storing energy, white fat acts as an insulator and cushion for your organs. Excess white fat around the abdominal organs (known as visceral fat) is linked to health problems including type 2 diabetes, heart attacks and cancer.

Brown fat: It’s called ‘brown’, but the shade can range from dark red to tan (the colour comes from its higher concentrations of iron). While white fat stores excess energy, brown fat burns it to generate heat and maintain the body’s core temperature. Scientists are now looking at ways to ‘switch on’ or even expand our brown fat stores — it’s known that exposure to cold in some people spurs their brown fat into action.

Beige fat: This is a newly discovered form of fat that burns calories, although not as effectively as brown fat. It occurs as a result of cold or exercise, which appear temporarily to turn white fat into beige — which could help explain the so-called ‘afterburn’ (higher use) of calories experienced following a workout.