Another possible causative factor in rising obesity rates has been pinpointed, and this one seems a bit unintuitive- it seems that the preponderance of nice, climate controlled atmospheres could contribute to weight gain.
Maybe the reason so many people in New York City are svelte is the piercing cold and sub-arctic subway platforms. A study examining data in the US and UK has cited a “potential causal link between reduced exposure to seasonal cold and increases in obesity in the UK and US,” and looks at exposure to seasonal cold as a factor in weight regulation. Not only have homes and other indoor environments become progressively warmer over the past decade, but people in the US and UK have become accustomed to less variance in the temperatures to which they are exposed.
Dr. Fiona Johnson of the UCL Epidemiology and Public Health, a lead author of the study, explains:
“Increased time spent indoors, widespread access to central heating and air conditioning, and increased expectations of thermal comfort all contribute to restricting the range of temperatures we experience in daily life and reduce the time our bodies spend under mild thermal stress – meaning we’re burning less energy. This could have an impact on energy balance and ultimately have an impact on body weight and obesity.”
The study, published in Obesity Review, cites genetic factors and of course, diet and exercise, as major contributing factors. However, Dr. Johnson says other influencing conditions, such as “increased expectations of thermal comfort,” could contribute to obesity rates.