Staying inside and turning up heat may contribute to obesity

Apr 12, 2011

Staying indoors and turning up the heat may lead to weight gain, according to a recent study.

Though winter months may encourage staying indoors and cranking up the heat, researchers have recently found that doing so may be contributing to obesity problems, according to University College London.

The recent increase in cold weather has caused people to seek warmth, but this "thermal comfort" that humans have come to expect may be a major factor in the weight problems that have affected many countries, according to the article, which was published in the journal Obesity.

Lead researcher Dr. Fiona Johnson says that our former exposure to different temperatures served as a fat-burning process. "Restricting the range of temperatures we experience in daily life. ... reduce[s] the time our bodies spend under mild thermal stress - meaning we're burning less energy," she said.

Time spent in warm environments may also be reducing the amount of "brown fat" we have, according to researchers. Since brown fat plays an important role in the energy burning process, this loss may hinder the ability of the human body to retain heat.

Obesity is a major concern in many countries due to its connection to some life-threatening diseases. Certain insurance companies may charge higher premiums for overweight people, due to their relatively increased risk of death.  

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