New research by a team of Dutch scientists suggests that more closely matching indoor and outdoor temperatures could be a healthy way to shed pounds.
Overly warm homes, on the other hand, could be stopping people from losing weight.
The findings emerged following a ten year study into the effect of varying temperatures on the human metabolism.
Heat production can account for 30% of energy consumption
The research found that the human body’s internal heat production can make up 30% of its overall energy consumption, at lower, but non-shiver inducing, temperatures. The team also discovered that the body adapts to cooler temperatures over time.
A separate group of scientists working in Japan, found that volunteers who spent two hours every day at a temperature of 17°C saw their body fat levels decrease.
Not for everyone
It is worth taking into account that the study focussed on healthy, young and middle aged people and not the elderly.
The Cold weather plan unveiled by the British government this winter, urged people to keep their homes warm, in an attempt to reduce the 24,000 avoidable deaths which occur every year, due to instances of cold weather.
‘Frequent mild cold exposure can significantly affect our energy expenditure’
Dr Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt, from Maastricht University Medical Centre and lead researcher on the project said: “Since most of us are exposed to indoor conditions 90% of the time, it is worth exploring health aspects of ambient temperatures.
“What would it mean if we let our bodies work again to control body temperature? We hypothesise that the thermal environment affects human health and more specifically that frequent mild cold exposure can significantly affect our energy expenditure over sustained time periods.”