Try living in the mountains to lose weight

Obese people should try living in the mountains if they want to lose weight, according to scientists.  Fat is much easier to burn off where the air is thin, researchers said, a phenomenon that could lead to tents that mimic the atmosphere of countries like Tibet and Argentina.


A study of twenty men with an average BMI (body mass index) of almost 34 found they kept off the pounds they had shed for at least a month after finishing the experiment.

Independent of any other change in lifestyle, the unique conditions appeared to increase metabolism, decrease appetite and lower blood pressure.

Thin air is not nearly as rich in oxygen as the dense, more heavily compressed air found at sea level.

Dr Florian Lippi, of Ludwig Maximillians University in Munich, said understanding the mechanisms behind this weight loss could provide a basis for new treatments of obesity.

His team studied the effect of living in high altitudes for one week while no other change was made to their exercise routine or food availability.

At the end of the study at an air conditioned lab near the top of Germany’s highest mountain Zugspitze their body weight, food intake and blood pressure had dropped dramatically and these effects were still there four weeks afterwards.

The researchers, whose findings are published in the journal Obesity, said the low levels of oxygen present at high altitudes could be responsible for an observed increase in leptin, a hormone thought to suppress appetite, although the causes of this need to be further studied.

Dr Lippi said: “The lasting weight reduction seen at high altitudes is primarily due to an increased metabolism and decreased food intake, though the reasons behind these changes remain unclear and may be a temporary effect of the body acclimatizing to new surroundings.”

He said in subjects with normal BMI, loss of body weight during high altitude mountain expeditions has been described in several studies. This is an unwanted side effect in athletes, but desired in obese individuals among whom the phenomenon has been poorly researched.

Dr Lippi said: “Obesity and associated disorders are a growing problem in many Western societies, and effective treatments remain elusive.

“It is known that spending time at high altitudes results in weight loss; however, the reason for this is unclear. The clarification of mechanisms leading to weight loss at high altitudes might provide new tools for treating obesity in the future.”

Via Telegraph