Drinking tea in front of a roaring fire may be enjoyable but it could be encouraging your body to pile on weight.
Sitting in your cosy home stops you from burning calories. It already adds unwanted pounds to your winter fuel bills.
And having the heating on high could also pile extra pounds on your weight, scientists believe.
Experts say many of us now keep our homes so cosy that we no longer have to burn as many calories to naturally warm up our bodies.
Modern centrally heated homes with efficient double glazing are helping to send obesity rates soaring, a study claims.
Scientists from University College London say it is an increasing problem across the developed world where average indoor temperatures are constantly rising.
And its impact on weight is made worse by the extra time we now spend indoors, whether working from home or shopping online.
Even when we do venture out, it is often via heated cars or other transport to offices and workplaces where the temperature is carefully controlled by air conditioning units.
The research, in the journal Obesity Reviews, said there was a direct link between ‘reduced exposure to seasonal cold and increases in obesity in the UK and U.S.’.
If the body is already warm it does not need to convert a ‘brown’ fat known as adipose tissue into energy to generate heat, the study said. Brown fat was previously thought to be present only in infants, playing a vital role in keeping them warm, but recent research found it also in adults.
This latest study suggested that prolonged exposure to comfortable warm temperatures may permanently reduce the body’s ability to burn this brown fat.
Lead author Fiona Johnson said: ‘Increased time spent indoors, widespread access to central heating and air conditioning, and increased expectations of thermal comfort all contribute to restricting the range of temperatures we experience in daily life.
‘This reduces the time our bodies spend under mild thermal stress – meaning we’re burning less energy.
‘This could have an impact on energy balance and ultimately have an impact on body weight and obesity.’
She called for health strategies to look at heating just as they currently look at other environmental factors such as diet and exercise.
Study co-author Marcella Ucci said: ‘The findings suggest that lower winter temperatures in buildings might contribute to tackling obesity as well as reducing carbon emissions.’
Via Daily Mail