In the news today, Dutch researchers suggest that using central heating may be contributing to our ballooning waistlines. Although higher temperatures in homes, offices and hospitals provide more comfort, bodies switch off. They no longer need to burn extra calories to keep warm.
A Maastricht University Medical Centre group says 19C (66F) is sufficient to provide the right balance.
To balance that, studies suggest that in cold indoor temperatures would increase the likelihood of a stroke, apart from the winter mortality effect. So beware if you're at risk.
The University of Stirling used research from 100,000 homes in England. People in houses heated above 23C tended to be slightly thinner, because at this point the body needed to lose heat, and sweating used up energy. Higher temperatures also lowered appetite and the amount of food being consumed. Perhaps we should keep the thermostat turned up high—if we could afford the increased charges.
A researcher from the UK's National Obesity Forum said that a cold environment switches on brown fat deposits, which are said to generate 300 times more heat than any organ in the body. This is the no-cost way to achieve a slim waist.
Studies show that brown fat is the body's natural thermal resource. The heat kept us warm as babies and is still capable of that job now. The bonus would be losing weight.
However, severe cold weather can have drastic effects on older people with existing health problems. People aged over 65 are 7 times more likely to be admitted to hospital as a result of low temperatures compared with those aged 18 to 44.
Okay. I admit I'm over 70 years with unrealistic expectations of my body image. I want my 18 inch waistline back! But as soon as my heating cuts off, I start to fidget. My fingers and legs feel the cold first. As my fingers cool down, they stiffen and turn icy. Although I want my brown fat to power up, I'm not sure I'm ready to venture into the 19C (66F) halfway-house between warm and cold. How about you?