Study shows new link between obesity and body temperature
March 13, 2018
Reduced ability to maintain body temperature in colder environments may contribute to the development of obesity in adulthood, suggests a new study in mice published March 12 in the Journal of Neuroscience. Energy from food fuels maintenance of a constant body temperature by generating and conserving heat. Nearly half of the human energy budget spent during a sedentary life is used to maintain a body temperature of about 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Researcher Rosa Señarís and colleagues from the University of Santiago de Compostela and the Institute of Neuroscience/University Miguel Hernandez of Alicante in Spain found that in a mildly cold environment, mice lacking the cold-sensing ion channel TRPM8 consumed more food during the day, when mice are usually asleep. The increased daytime eating started at a young age and led to obesity and high blood sugar in adulthood, which may have been caused in part by reduced fat utilization. Compared to control animals, the TRPM8-deficient mice lost more body heat in mild cold, particularly during periods of fasting when their body temperature dropped below 86 degrees Fahrenheit. The research represents a previously unrecognized link between thermal sensing systems, thermoregulation and food intake, which may open up new avenues for preventing and treating obesity.