America isn’t the only country suffering from an obesity epidemic, and it’s sending researchers all over the world scrambling for an effective treatment solution to stop, or at the very least slow down, the increasingly dangerous health and financial crisis. Japanese researchers from Tokyo Medical University have found a key regulating switch that may just be the trick and published their findings in the journal The EMBO Journal.

Knowing that inflammation, obesity, and diabetes are all closely related, the research team looked at obesity’s relationship to the inflammatory condition known as rheumatoid arthritis. The same researchers previously developed a chemical compound that turns off the gene responsible for inflammation known as Synoviolin. When they retested the chemical compound and watched for its effects on fat instead of rheumatoid arthritis, they found Synoviolin decreased in the body along with yellow-white fat tissue, which ultimately reduced the mice’s body weight.

"Obesity is a known risk factor for other chronic disorders," the study’s lead author Toshihiro Nakajima, a researcher at Tokyo Medical University, said in a press release. "Our findings indicate that Synoviolin may be a key for understanding the common features of obesity and chronic inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis."

White-yellow fat is the stuff you don’t want in your body. It insulates and cushions our important organs, and produces hormones like estrogen, adrenaline, stress, and hunger hormones. It has less mitochondria, which is the powerhouse and heat-burning engine of the body’s cells, because it serves as an energy storage in the body. Brown fat is composed of large mitochondria, and is designed to burn calories in order to generate heat. Feel warmer after five minutes on the treadmill? That’s your brown fat heating up and burning fat.

In a recent study, Swedish researchers focused on obesity’s relationship to type 2 diabetes. The two medical conditions share the same pathway, which is why by manipulating one you can affect the other. They’re currently perfecting how to activate brown fat despite problems with blood sugar levels—a key to helping diabetics work into a healthier body mass index range.

Obesity is a complex condition in regards to both the causes and the biological pathways it travels through and thrives in, which is why the ultimate solution to solving the crisis won’t be simple. A combination of environmental and genetic factors are heavily at play, and it’s only getting worse. Between 1995 and 2000, an additional 100 million people around the world jumped on the broken down bandwagon, and now stands at 300 million large. The World Health Organization is calling the escalating global epidemic of the overweight and obese populations “globesity” and there’s nothing we can do but collaboratively research and test out new theories and prod at unconventional pathways.

Source: Nakajima T, Fujita H, Yagishita N, Aratani S, Saito-Fujita T, and Morota S, et al. The E3 ligase synoviolin controls body weight and mitochondrial biogenesis through negative regulation of PGC-1β.The EMBO Journal. 2015.