Dr. Francesco S. Celi of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and colleagues reported that shivering due to cold produces the release of the same hormone as exercise and could be an alternative obesity preventative in the Feb. 4, 2014, issue of the journal Cell Metabolism.
The researchers found that the hormone irisin is produced by the muscles of the body as a result of shivering in similar quantities to the amounts of irisin produced during exercise. Irisin stimulates fat tissue to produce heat and depletes fat tissue.
The researchers confirmed their conclusions through testing human subjects and laboratory tests on human fat cell reaction to an irisin precursor. The stimulated fat cells burned more energy and released more heat.
The researchers note that the origin of the irisin hormone may have been as a means to protect the body from cold.
The scientists suggest that one method of losing weight and reversing the epidemic of obesity in the United States could be as simple as turning down the heat and shivering to burn fat.
Considering the recent cold weather across much of the United States, there may be a reduction in weight due to the cold. One might conjecture that previous generations were not as overweight and obese as the present generation because the previous generations did not have the same availability of heat during the winter.