Daylight and cold for weight loss

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Researchers are conjuring up ways to harness the power of daylight and cold temperatures for helping with weight loss. Recent discoveries about brown fat, also known as brown adipose tissue (BAT), have brought a research focus on how to stimulate production of brown fat in humans to help with weight loss.

Scientists at The University of Nottingham have now found that daylight and cold are factors that greatly contribute to controlling brown fat, and they are trying to find ways to help humans lose weight by promoting BAT activity.

Brown fat burns energy instead of storing it, making us overweight. White fat is the kind that hangs over our belts, and jiggles under the arms.

Research led by Michael Symonds, Professor of Developmental Physiology in the School of Clinical Sciences at The University of Nottingham found that brown fat activity correlates closely with daylight, and to a lesser degree with ambient temperature. Brown fat is activated by cold.


The scientists say that global warming and indoor heating has diminished out ability to produce energy burning, beneficial brown fat, leading to obesity. Brown fat produces heat. Because our heat requirements have decreased, our bodies produce less brown fat, making it harder to lose weight.

Professor Symonds says, “Our research demonstrates a very strong seasonal variation in the presence of BAT. The study focused on the impact of daylight and ambient temperature as these are two key factors in determining BAT function in small mammals. Our exciting new findings may help us find novel interventions aimed at promoting BAT activity particularly in the winter.” The findings, published in the journal Diabetes, studied over 3500 patients, leading to the findings that stimulating brown fat could be a useful tool to help with weight loss.

If the researchers can find a way for the body make more brown fat (BAT), it would be easy to burn calories and lose weight. Brown fat is capable of producing up to 300 times more heat per unit mass compared with all other tissues.

The scientists feel they may have found a novel mechanism that could use daylight to help with weight loss and fight obesity. The researchers say promoting brown adipose activity in humans could provide a new treatment for losing weight.

Symonds says, “Our research has suggested a previously unknown mechanism for controlling BAT function in humans and this could potentially lead to new treatments for the prevention or reversal of obesity.” The obesity epidemic could become a reason to fight global warming. We need to lose weight.

The University of Nottingham