Cold Temperatures Help With Weight Loss, Say Researchers

Could cold temperatures help with weight loss?

ByABC News
January 26, 2011, 3:37 PM

Jan. 27, 2011— -- While a warm, toasty house may feel great in the winter, some researchers suggest warm temperatures also may play a role in the obesity epidemic.

Fiona Johnson of University College London and her colleagues analyzed a number of studies that examined the relationship between exposure to cold temperatures and the ability to burn off energy. Their research is published in the journal Obesity Reviews.

They found evidence that over the past several decades, people in the U.S. and the U.K. have been steadily raising the temperatures in their homes.

They also found indirect evidence that the body's response to cold, which consists of shivering and hormonal actions, plays a major role in energy expenditure. Regulation of body temperature, they say, is associated with weight.

"Both genetic mutations and ablative lesions that result in abnormal energy expenditure contribute to the development of obesity in laboratory animals," the authors wrote.

"As ambient temperatures go down, people tend to move around and have more adaptive behaviors that allow them to burn more energy," said Dr. Peter McCullough, chief academic and scientific officer at St. John Providence Health System in Detroit. McCullough was not involved in the current research.

But other weight loss experts said the connection between cold temperatures and weight isn't yet very strong and they can't say for certain whether there's any association with obesity.

"It's possible that people exposed to cold temperatures induce a process that can lead to weight loss," said Dr. Robert Eckel, professor of medicine at the University of Colorado's Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. "I don't know if it has implications for obesity."