Too much air-conditioning can lead to obesity


Obesity: Obesity can lead to a myriad of health problems.
Obesity: Obesity can lead to a myriad of health problems.

It sounds a little outrageous, doesn't it?

However, according a report in the International Journal of Obesity, comfortable temperatures is one of the top factors that may cause obesity.

Close to 25% of Americans are considered obese. It is becoming a significant medical problem in our country. Why is this happening?

It is quite apparent that poor diet and lack of exercise, the "Big Two," can lead to obesity, but there are other factors that also play a role.

David Allison, an obesity researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and his team of 19 researchers generated a list of the "Top Ten" other contributors to obesity. The list includes lack of sleep, medicines with a weight gain side effect, fewer smokers, comfortable temperatures, reproductive factors, and more.

Upon first inspection, it seems strange that comfortable temperatures even made the list. However, when our bodies are uncomfortable they use up energy to bring us to a more stable level. When we are too cold, we burn fat to stay warm. When we are too hot, we naturally become less hungry. Also, our bodies react to disagreeable temperatures by shivering and sweating. Heating and air-conditioning make life easier by regulating our body temperature for us.

Should we spend less time in our comfortable air-conditioned homes and more time sweating in the sun?

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

this blog in my opinion is a load of fake,unrealistic,information
THINK ABOUT IT!!!!!If you live in Florida where it's always hot i'm pretty sure the AC is going to be on 24-7.And half the people there are skinny to!

posted on Wed, 06/28/2006 - 1:42pm
Anonymousssssss's picture
Anonymousssssss says:

no, it's actually not. if you look at multiple studies and their findings, you'll see this is true from the medieval times. obesity and average amount of ac used by people at the time is almost collinear, its quite amazing really

posted on Sat, 09/18/2010 - 2:07am
Liza's picture
Liza says:
If you read the article that Megan links to, you'll see that you aren't the only person who had a strong negative reaction to David Allison's findings. He and 19 other scientists looked at 100 studies on obesity, and concluded that there was SOME evidence that 10 factors (including comfortable temperatures) besides diet and lack of exercise could contribute to obesity. The key word, there, is "contribute." Spending most of your time at a climate-controlled 68 degrees probably won't make you overweight if you're not already headed in that direction. But it won't help you if you are. Diet and exercise are, as always, the two most important factors in weight gain or loss.
posted on Wed, 06/28/2006 - 2:27pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

re too much air conditioning ca lead to obsesity: Here I am in July ,putside temperature at 88 with high humidity, in southeastern Pennsylvania, having suffered the loss of our central air conditioner two days ago. I've already lost more than one pound. Why? I don't feel like eating, can't imagine cooking. I'm readily drinking the fluids that I would have to remind myself to drink if the air conditioning was working and, egads, I might even be baking cookies with my kids!

As we may be unable to have a new system installed for appox 2-3 weeks, I am hopeful that weight loss will be a silver lining. I am 5'3' and weigh about 150 pounds. 145 - here I come! With a heat wave in the forecast, it seems quite likely that I may lose a few more pounds.

I think you're on to something in evaluating the role air conditioning may play in the obesity epidemic. (Not to mention global warming.)

posted on Wed, 07/12/2006 - 4:29pm
silverscribe's picture
silverscribe says:

I strongly agree with the idea that AC contributes to obestity. I was beginning to think this way years before the idea was discussed by the scientific community.

I remember a time when it was highly unusual for a child to be obese. One reason this memory is sharp is that I myself progressed from "healthy" to "plump" to "obese" by age 12.

There were many aspects of the average American lifestyle that were different, and many of those aspects contributed to keeping people thinner.

But back then, fewer homes were air-conditioned. Our school had no AC at all, and we wore uniforms. Wool uniforms. My own home, in contrast, was thoroughly air-conditioned; we had AC before we had a television.

I can remember how we suffered when we visited our relatives in mid-summer. We sat on the back porch, drinking iced tea and sweating. I couldn't wait to get home. It was miserable.

But I did go on a diet, and I lost weight permanently. I am now convinced that one reason the loss was effective was that I performed most of my exercise outdoors, in all seasons, which forced my body to adjust to temperature changes.

Now, I make it a point to work out, out of doors, in all temperatures (except below 20 degrees F, which puts me in danger of frostbite.)

I think that for middle-aged an older adults, it is critical to get outside in the heat, because if the body is not so acclimated, the sudden need to move fast in the heat can set off a heart attack.

Just be sure to wear sunscreen!

posted on Mon, 08/13/2007 - 10:21am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I couldnt agree more that air conditioning is a significant cause of obesity. When you look at the exploding rates of obesity you have to look at the lifestyle and diet factors that contribute to the condition. I too had been thinking of this concept before studies were done and how our bodies arent forced to sweat to rid ourselves of the extra calories. A second note is that people take in way too much high fructose corn syrup (replaced regular sugar in the 80's in sodas). Our body doesnt know what to do with this foreign substance so it just stores it as fat. It actually tricks the body into cravings for more sugar and so on and so on. Remove the high fructose corn syrup from the diet and raise the indoor temperature a little and you will have a huge impact on obesity. The answers are so simple and it is wreckless to not at least try them given that obesity can lead to death. I am passionate that a few slight adjustments in lifestyle and diet can bring huge success. I went from a size 16 to a 10 over the course of 9 months just with these two things.

posted on Thu, 04/17/2008 - 10:07am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I find this information very informative and will be increasing the tempture of my home to see what results i get:)

posted on Tue, 06/03/2008 - 12:10pm
gordwick's picture
gordwick says:

I find it hard to believe that this factor contributes to obesity... I didn't ever expected to hear this. As long as we care about our condition and keep a healthy diet I don't think air conditioners will have any influence over our weight... We don't have to be obese just because we have confort in our lives, it's our choice in the end.

Gordwick at Maytag Parts

posted on Sat, 11/15/2008 - 2:14pm
gurminder singh's picture
gurminder singh says:

well, I did not believe it, when I first heard air conditioning can lead to obesity. However, I started exercising, I was getting fit but gaining weight. I still remember my colleagues telling the management people to shut of the AC, but they would not do that. I did not understand why they did not shut off the AC, when we wanted them too.

But after a while I started seeing the change in me and my colleagues. over a period of time, everybody was gaining weight.

posted on Sun, 06/27/2010 - 1:37am
Mahalia C.'s picture
Mahalia C. says:

what exactly are you talking about when you say that you don't agree what they say about obesity? If you think about it a lot of times it is a choice to be obese especially now that we know the differance of eating right and wrong. But other times it could be genetics as well. But I do see what your saying.

posted on Sat, 11/15/2008 - 3:30pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

interesting, lack of sleep huh. i thought that would make someone lose weight. and become sickly looking.

posted on Sun, 08/09/2009 - 7:24pm
Ste's picture
Ste says:

While I think it may play a very small role it is still nowhere near as bad as a bad diet and lack of exercise. It's stupid because being healthy really isn't that hard, people are obviously just lazy, all you have to do is eat well with some good vegetables and fruit and then do some good exercise (get a dog, play some sports or go swimming, theres loads of fun ways to exercise!).

posted on Mon, 02/08/2010 - 9:04am
Causes of obesity's picture

In the battle over America�s expanding waistline, much of the emphasis is on diet and exercise. A new study suggests other potential causes, including too much air conditioning, should be studied as well.IThe report, published in the International Journal of Obesity, said researchers found no link between obesity and the proximity of children to fast food restaurants. On the other hand, researchers cite biology to link the growing problem of obesity and the prevalence of air conditioning over the last three decades.Mammals, they say, use up more energy to maintain their bodies at an acceptable temperature.The more time humans spend in a climate-controlled environment, the less their bodies have to work. They also suggest people tend to eat less when they�re hot."If you lived in Alabama in the summer of 1960, without air conditioning in a car or restaurant, you probably wouldn�t want to go to an all-you-can-eat buffet," said David Allison, a researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.Allison said other factors could also contribute to weight gain, such as over-medication. He said the widespread use of anti-psychotics, anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, contraceptives and antihistamines, all can cause users to put on pounds.The researchers urged their colleagues to focus on some of the unexamined causes of obesity, and not so much on fast food and lack of exercise

posted on Mon, 04/19/2010 - 12:52am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I think there's something to this. When it is hot, I don't want to eat.

posted on Wed, 06/23/2010 - 12:27pm
HeatPumps Christchurch's picture

A very interesting post, I guess when it is really hot or cold people are thinking about how unpleasant it is, and not about food or being 'hungry'.

posted on Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:00pm
ChristinoSM's picture

Obesity can be best described as the most common nutritional disorder especially in the affluent group of people. It is a condition in which excessive accumulation of fat takes place in the body due to intake of food in excess of physiological requirements. Treatment for obesity is a realistic option particularly in this case where obesity is an issue. Obesity is a bodily condition characterized by excessive storage of fat in adipose tissue.

posted on Fri, 01/14/2011 - 12:07am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

People are FAT because they EAT TOO MUCH FOOD! Geez.

posted on Sun, 03/06/2011 - 12:43pm
Uglee's picture
Uglee says:

I had been wondering if there might be a link between air conditioning and obesity, which is how I found this post. What got me wondering was an article I read the other day which said that animals (and people) could be expected to get smaller in response to global warming. That is what has happened in previous episodes of global warming. So yes, I do think there is probably a link.

One factor I don't see anybody mentioning is the use of growth hormones in our factory farms. It would not be surprising if some of these growth hormones show up on our dinner plates. We are doing this to ourselves.

Sure, there is a genetic factor for some people, but that does not account for the increase in obesity. People are not more likely to survive or reproduce because they are fat.

posted on Fri, 04/20/2012 - 12:05pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

This is an interesting idea that I would consider.

posted on Sun, 04/22/2012 - 11:01am
abbiesjones's picture

whenever a man is using his physical comforts more he is prone to unhealth

posted on Wed, 06/26/2013 - 12:02am
voycieck's picture
voycieck says:

Here is how I see it. When You seat in 68F room and outside is 98F You do not go for the walk to the park from fear that 30 degree Fahrenheit temperature difference may give You heat strike. Instead You seat in front of TV, punching buttons on the remote control and drink lots of hot coco to warm-up a bit.

posted on Thu, 06/27/2013 - 9:34pm
ericbosloor's picture
ericbosloor says:

Well, I think there always needs to be a few factors combined in order to make a theory true. You cannot simply base on one factor alone which could be very misleading. I work in a self-storage where air-conditioner is a must in order to ensure customers’ belongings are kept in a conducive environment. However, I eat healthy and exercise regularly to ensure I am always in a good shape by leading a healthy lifestyle. You should really factor in a few pointers and not just use one standalone factor to gauge a theory. It is as good as being baseless.

posted on Thu, 07/03/2014 - 10:47pm

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