Cold weather helps burn calories, doctors say

Doctors say cold temps activate brown fat

Author: Scott Johnson, General assignment reporter, sjohnson@wjxt.com
Elizabeth Berry, Evening assignment manager, beth@wjxt.com
Published On: Jan 23 2014 11:12:24 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 23 2014 11:47:32 PM EST
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Doctors say there could be some benefit to all the cold weather and people should see it when they step on the scale. Studies show cold temperatures could help people lose weight.

"Thirty percent of your energy is used for body heating because we are warm creatures, so we need to heat up this body," explained Dr. Miro Uchal, with St. Vincent's HealthCare. "If you're in a cold environment, we need to make more heat and hopefully give up more energy out. You'll be leaner."

Studies show there are two types of fat. One is called brown, which is used often in heating the body. It's good fat that can help people be thinner. Then there's white, yellowish-colored fat that collects in the hips, thighs and stomach.

"The brown fat is actually good for you, deeper than the yellow fat, and so giving up the heat and the energy, and it's burning the energy or calories for you," said Uchal.

Uchal said weight loss isn't as simple as keeping a room 10 degrees colder than usual. He explained often there are a lot of factors that go into weight loss. Still, cold weather could help.

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"All heat is trapped inside this area and may be influencing how we metabolize sugar, how hormones work, how pancreas works and I believe there is a lot of truth in that," said Uchal.

The study also shows brown fat is more plentiful in newborns than adults and that's why they burn fat at a much higher rate.