Is Your Warm House The Reason You Can’t Lose Weight?
We are all well aware that eating too much and insufficient exercise are important factors that determine our weight and drive the current obesity epidemic. Weight gain and loss is a product of many other lifestyle factors including stress, sleep and even the temperature of your house. A review published in the journal Obesity Reviews examines the link between reduced exposure to the cold and obesity in the UK and US.
We Burn More Calories When Cold
It’s not something we think a lot about when we’re sitting in our favorite easy chair in front of a warm fire in our well insulated house during winter. We can easily control our environment with a turn of the thermostat. In fact, the only deterrent to staying warm for most people is fear of the fuel oil or electric bill at the end of the month.
Historically, humans have lived in cold climates where they had to endure bitter cold for extended periods. Our body must burn calories at a much higher level to keep us warm during these times, and the increased metabolism helps to prevent overweight and obesity. This study review attempts to explain that seasonal cold helps to regulate energy balance and can help maintain normal body weight on a population level.
Indoor Temperatures Have Increased Over the Past Several Decades
Widespread access to central heating and air conditioning contribute to a restriction of the temperature variations experienced under natural conditions. Humans have evolved to acclimate to mild thermal stress, as our metabolic rate can easily adjust to differing temperature zones. When we’re cold, our heart rate and blood pressure increase as blood vessels close to the skin constrict in response to reduced temperatures.