An interesting study done by the University College London and published in the Obesity Reviews journal on Tuesday correlates rising obesity rates with our living in environments that are steadily becoming warmer and more comfortable.
No, this isn’t ‘global warming’ – it is instead the fact that our houses and our offices are better heated in the winters than they used to be. The study, using UK data, showed that the average indoor temperature has been rising at a rate of 1 degree Fahrenheit per decade since the 1960s. So the normal indoors temperature of 50 years ago (presumably about 63 F or 17 C) has now become about 68/20.
How does this make us fatter? The body consumes less energy heating itself when it is in a warmer environment. Apparently a change of 7 degrees F (4 C) in the ambient temperature can impact on the amount of calories we burn each day by 800 calories.
How much is 800 calories? Well, you consume between 75-90 calories (women less, men more) by walking a mile, and 105-125 calories by running a mile. So this 800 calories is the same as walking 9 – 10 miles a day, or running 7 – 8 miles. That is a lot of energy.
The study says that because we are more consistently in comfortable/warm environments, our bodies are slowly losing their ability to burn calories (ie fat). This is via a process that uses ‘brown fat’ or adipose tissue, and the study suggests that our bodies may be increasingly less able to create and burn off this fat (due to not needing to do so as regularly/seasonally as in the past).
So, turn down the heat and shiver in the cold. You’ll save money, reduce carbon emissions, and lose weight too!
More details here.