ScienceDaily (Jan. 24, 2011) — Increases in winter indoor temperatures in the United Kingdom, United States and other developed countries may be contributing to rises in obesity in those populations, according to UCL research just published.
The review paper, published in the journal Obesity Reviews, examines evidence of a potential causal link between reduced exposure to seasonal cold and increases in obesity in the UK and US.
Reduced exposure to cold may have two effects on the ability to maintain a healthy weight: minimising the need for energy expenditure to stay warm and reducing the body's capacity to produce heat.
The authors also discuss the role of brown adipose tissue (brown fat) in human heat production. Brown fat differs from white fat in that it has the capacity to burn energy to create heat, and its development in the body is thought to be triggered by exposure to cold temperatures. Recent studies suggest that increased time spent in warm conditions may lead to a loss of brown fat, and therefore reduced capacity to burn energy.
Co-author, Marcella Ucci , UCL Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, said: "The findings suggest that lower winter temperatures in buildings might contribute to tackling obesity as well reducing carbon emissions."