A more social lifestyle can speed up weight loss, at least in mice, according to a new research from the Ohio State University.

Researchers found that after one month in this social environment - consisting of 15-20 mice with running wheels, toys, tunnels and a maze - mice had lost on average 50% of their abdominal white fat.

In comparison, mice who were not placed in a social environment did not have changes in their white fat cells.

Professor Matthew During who led the study, said that he was "amazed at the degree of fat loss that occurs," according to a BBC report.

The research could open the way for new treatments for obesity in people around the world given the impact of this problem in health and economic sectors.

How did the weight loss occur?

To understand how the weight loss occurred is important to know that mice and human beings have two different types of fat: white fat and brown fat.

White fat stores energy and brown fat burns energy.

Humans are born with significant amounts of brown fat and its main purpose is to burn energy to regulate the body's temperature. Brown fat is also needed for weight loss.

However brown fat is lost with age and is difficult to make.

Nevertheless, mice were able to put to work their white fat cells (which store energy) and change them into brown fat (which are energy burners) when placed in a socially challenging environment.

Researchers said living in a socially enriched environment activates the sympathetic nervous system that drives white fat to switch to brown fat.