, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 26-34
Date: 10 Feb 2012

Ambient Temperature and Obesity

Abstract

Homeotherms maintain an optimal body temperature that is most often above their environment or ambient temperature. As ambient temperature decreases, energy expenditure (and energy intake) must increase to maintain thermal homeostasis. With the widespread adoption of climate control, humans in modern society are buffered from temperature extremes and spend an increasing amount of time in a thermally comfortable state where energetic demands are minimized. This is hypothesized to contribute to the contemporary increase in obesity rates. Studies reporting exposures of animals and humans to different ambient temperatures are discussed. Additional consideration is given to the potentially altered metabolic and physiologic responses in obese versus lean subjects at a given temperature. The data suggest that ambient temperature is a significant contributor to both energy intake and energy expenditure, and that this variable should be more thoroughly explored in future studies as a potential contributor to obesity susceptibility.