I’d always heard that if you forfeited wearing sweaters and coats during the winter months, you would actually burn more calories, presumably to stay warm. Of course, this is not such great weight loss advice, on account of the possibility that you might compromise your immune system, not to mention risk some frost bite.
There seems to be more to the story though. An article in Wednesday’s New York Times discusses the possibility of a type of body fat, known as brown fat, that is actually metabolically active.
Nearly every adult has little blobs of brown fat that can burn huge numbers of calories when activated by the cold, as when sitting in a chilly room that is between 61 and 66 degrees.
Though more commonly found in infants, it seems adults do tend to have some of this brown fat in the upper back, side of the neck, the crevice between one’s collarbone and shoulder and also throughout the spine.
So brown fat can be activated by cold, but, it is also possibly activated by neurotransmitters, and this may ulitmately be the key as researchers try to develop a drug that will be able to safely stimulate brown fat, and eventually help with weight loss.