Ambient Temp, Obesogenic Environments
Monday, September 09, 2013
Really interesting article in this morning's Globe and Mail about the effect of moderate temperature variations on brown fat and calorie burn. Here's the link:
But in a nut shell: we are living in too comfortable and too restricted a temperature range, what with heating in winter and air conditioning in summer: from home to car to office without need for our bodies to do the work of adjusting to outdoor temperature changes. Our ambient temperature is always pretty much the same.
And: that means diminution of the calorie-burning role of good "brown fat" in accommodating temperature changes.
Combine too constant and too comfortable temperatures with too many fast food triggers, too much commuting time in cars/trains/buses/planes, too much screen time: and it's just one more factor in creating the obesogenic environments in which we all increasingly live. Getting fatter and fatter.
Take away? Maybe, with cooler weather coming, not being so quick to jack up the temperature. Maybe tolerating some discomfort (what a radical thought: not sure I'm comfortable with that!!). Maybe giving the ol' brown fat a chance to trigger some calorie burn just adjusting the internal body temp for us: rather than flicking the thermostat to adjust the external ambient temp.
OK: if I can tolerate the discomfort of hunger (not an emergency) and exercise (mostly fun when it's over) then welcoming temperature changes with the seasons could be another small adjustment that could make a difference with respect to weight loss and weight loss maintenance.
It may be another signal, somewhat like Refuse to Regain's primarian diet, that we cannot simply ignore our biology. We cannot simply ignore the reality that our evolution as physical entities hasn't kept pace with modern technologies. The ready availability of fat, salt, sugar. The ready availability of all kinds of machines that eliminate the exercise people got daily as recently as the 1950s, washing clothes and washing dishes and cleaning and walking to work and walking to school. The tolerance of heat in summer without air conditioning (run through the sprinkler!) and cold in winter without central heating (put on a sweater! chop some wood!).