Recent studies conducted within the Netherlands reveal cold temperatures can in part aid in weight loss. Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism is a professional journal which published information conducive to this finding.
With the advent of ambient temperature control, the comforts of the home and office are more available. It is within the human nature to keep the body warm and comfortable which may in part contribute to the increasing gain in obesity percentages seen within various nations. As individuals are more comfortable in their surroundings by using heat sources, this may in fact contribute to the rise.
Lichtenbelt, a researcher at the Maastricht Univ. Med. Center, found nine out of ten people have access to controlling ambient temperatures. He decided to further his investigations in allowing the body to once again “control” its own body temperature through natural regulation. Individuals who are exposed to colder air create an “atmosphere for the body” to regulate core temperatures, thus expending more needed energy.
When the human body uses energy to stay warm, it must use more calories through the process of “shivering.” The body then produces heat to bring the core temperature up. In viewing individuals at rest as compared to those who produce heat to stay warm, research shows the second group uses five times additional energy reserves.
Research also concludes the body will use more energy while activating brown fat. Brown fat is a “healthy fat” found within some of the fatty tissues within the human body. This healthy fat is activated by colder temperatures. Individuals who have higher percentages of brown fat use more calorie stores to stay warm. Therefore, there is a substantial difference noted in the number of calories burned. Some studies note a thirty percent variance between the two primary groups.
Japan is also doing research within this area of temperature control effects. One study conducted allowed participants to spend two hours daily within a sixty-two degree (62 F) room for a period of six weeks. The end result seen was a decrease in body fat percentages among the individuals.
Another research study found people who are exposed to colder temperatures for a period of time “adjust to” the temperature change. One study group spent six hours daily for ten days in an atmosphere of fifty-nine degrees (59 F). The participants within the study became more complacent over time and their bodies “shivered” less. Interestingly, the members also held more brown healthy fats within the body at the end of the study.
The study of the effects of colder temperature exposure on the body over time is advocated among researchers. More information is needed to determine if various grades of cooler temperatures will have the same end results as stated above. The longer term effects of the “exposure” to cooler temps is also fully unknown and more research is definitely needed. Further investigation will provide additional insights into environmental temperature control and how it affects weight gain, or weight loss.