Most of us manage to put a few extra pounds on over the winter season. Usually the extra weight is attributed to us eating lots and moving little, as we huddle inside.
But now researchers suggest that modern man is doing a lot less huddling because we can create tropical island weather inside our homes and offices.
Hot houses create fatter people
Yup, if we look at the graphs tracking obesity with winter indoor temperatures, as the thermostat has risen, so has the size of the people controlling the dial.
Being really cold is pretty rare these days. Actually being really hot is also quite rare, but this is another story. In short – thermal stress is infrequent.
Cold is good for you….
I have to be honest, this is one of those concepts that is hard to appreciate as an African. As far as I am concerned, a temperature below 15 °C is cold and anything below 10 degrees is freezing.
But being cold, means your body has got to kick it up a gear or two and generate extra heat. To generate this extra heat requires extra calories are burnt.
Since weight management is all about getting the equation
Calories in = calories out
Burning more calories means tweaking the equation to win the war against the terror of the pounds.
The trouble with avoiding the cold
Living in a tropical climate all year round, does more than just decrease the need to burn fuel to keep warm, it actually changes the body’s fat.
Now, most of us see fat as THE ENEMY. But there are different kinds of fat. There is white fat and brown fat.
White fat is the bad stuff that makes you look awful in a bikini and causes the major metabolic disturbances which characterize obesity. Brown fat is good fat – it helps you keep warm.
Living in a tropical neighbourhood makes the brown fat redundant, so the body ditches the stuff. But the loss of brown fat means that your ability to burn calories drops. Tipping that damn weight formula so that less calories are burned – period.
Go blue this winter to be green
Being cold is miserable, but being fat, is hazardous to your health.
Leave the heater packed away in the cupboard this winter. You’ll be doing your bit to protect the environment, as you cut down on your carbon emissions because you’re using less electricity while safeguarding your health.
So go blue this winter, you’ll be healthier and wealthier on two fronts, you’ll burn more calories and save on your electricity bills.
Could increased time spent in a thermal comfort zone contribute to population increases in obesity? Obesity Reviews (2011) F. Johnson, A. Mavroggiani, M. Ucci, A. Vidal-Puig, J. Wardle.
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Did you learn something new or do you have a different perspective ? I’d love to hear from you so post me a comment below…..