Keep your eyes out for a piece of research that will soon make the rounds: Dr. Roberto Refinetti postulated that a part of obese people’s problem with weight is possibly due to lowered body temperature.
In The Name Of Science
Dr. Refinetti, as far as I can tell, is an esteemed scientist and we have to admit that science sometimes does need unusual approaches to arrive at viable findings. Therefore him sticking thermometers in the anuses of dogs is nothing to be made fun of.
Because Dr. Refinetti saw it possible that fat bodies need to expend less energy to keep body temperature stable and that therefore fewer calories are used for that process. Accordingly, he set out to determine it by measuring dogs’ rectal temperatures.
Lower Temperature, Higher Weight?
He found that more obese dogs showed a tendency to have a lower body temperature. If we now assume that generating a lower body temperature requires less energy, then he may have found a possible factor in the obesity puzzle. But he quite rightly cautions:
As our study started after obesity had already developed, we do not know whether the chronic lowering of body temperature preceded or followed the inception of obesity. Therefore, we cannot distinguish the direction of causality in the association between obesity and reduced body temperature.
That was a rather important remark and it also remains to be shown how big the practical applications of this effect, if it exists, would be. We will also have to see if this can be transferred to humans in any way at all.
Get Hot, Lose Weight
But those small technicalities are often overlooked on news sites. You can be sure that many media sources will extrapolate more meaning from it. Not to mention how this study will transform in the hands of the people selling hot chili peppers and other miracle weight loss drugs that temporarily increase body temperature.
Picture courtesy of Lisa Cyr.