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Warmer Indoor Temperature and Obesity

Is Central Heat Making Us Fat?

Winter weight gain can happen to the best of us, but new research out of England says that turning up the heat indoors can lead to weight gain. Apparently, temperatures in the low 60s, while still comfortable, causes a substance in our bodies called brown fat to burn, generating heat and burning calories.

Research was conducted by a team of professionals including health psychologists, biologists, and indoor-environment specialists. Apparently, since central heat became popular in the 1960s, indoor temperatures in both the US and the UK have gotten warmer; at the same time obesity rates have been climbing as well. Additionally, researchers found that due to the efficiency of modern heating systems, most people heat their entire house to one temperature, whereas in the past the bedrooms tended to be slightly colder.

Not being exposed to the cold, researchers say, means our bodies don't produce enough of this brown fat, which in turn is unable to burn calories. They also maintain that cold exposure or non-exposure is not a major contributing factor to obesity; exercise and food consumption still take top honors in that category. But at least one medical professional does maintain that lowering the temperature indoors may have a weight-reduction effect over time.

Next time you're feeling chilly, don't reach for the thermostat. Do some push-ups instead!

Image Source: Thinkstock
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Join The Conversation
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 5 years
After spending time with relatives in Denver who kept their houses heated to a million degrees...I'll never heat mine higher than 70. I'm perfectly happy with a blanket.
SaraJeanQueen SaraJeanQueen 5 years
This reminds me of something Portia de Rossi wrote of in her book, and that Madonna subscribes to -- anorexia tip, anyone??
BeamerCG BeamerCG 5 years
I agree w/ karinacocina. You can pretty much manipulate statistics to link anything you want. Besides, this is just one study. Another could find something completely different.
Curlock-Holmes Curlock-Holmes 5 years
I'm sorry, but who exactly is comfortable in the 'low 60's' range? A polar bear? Mr. Freeze and the Penguin? I don't even like my house to be that cold in the summertime. Also, are we really blaming central heat for the rise in obesity? Really?
amber512 amber512 5 years
I am FREEZING if the apartment gets below 70. Shivering may burn more calories, but to me it's highly uncomfortable.
karinacocina karinacocina 5 years
this research seems a little...pointless to me. i mean cant you just say anything that was invented in the 1960's gave rise to obesity? and what about people who live where its warm year round? are they any fatter than people who us central heat?
Whitney-English Whitney-English 5 years
Uh oh, I'm in trouble! I like my house at an even 80...
ojodeazul ojodeazul 5 years
Wow. I must be a polar bear. We keep our house at 64 MAX. At night it frequently goes down to 52 and I love sleeping in that weather. When at 64 I wear a long sleeved tshirt, sweats and socks.
crystalvillage06 crystalvillage06 5 years
Yea, I keep our heater on 74. I would be very uncomfortable with our home being in the low 60's. Think I'll stick with diet and exercise to keep healthy..not my thermostat.
imLissy imLissy 5 years
low 60s???? I'm freezing at 70! Our bedroom is 68 at night and I can't feel my toes as it is :(
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