Wednesday, February 23, 2011

While the donuts don't help, it's not just food making you fat

New research recently published in the International Journal of Obesity is taking a deeper look factors in our environments that could be contributing to obesity -- specifically, keeping your house warmer in winter and losing sleep.

David Allison, Ph.D., director of the Nutrition Obesity Research Center at UAB, showed us years ago that it is not just inactivity and bad food choices that are making us fat. Allison, along with several of his colleagues, published a study in 2006 suggesting 10 reasons why people are packing on so many extra pounds.

The new research, conducted at the University of Turin in Italy, followed 1,300 middle-aged adults over a six-year period; 103 of them become obese during that time. The study authors found that for each hour of sleep people got each day, the odds of their becoming obese went down by 30 percent.

Also, those who kept their homes warmer in the winter were more likely to become obese. This is the first study, Allison told Reuters Health reporter Amy Norton, that connects a person's home temperature with a risk of becoming obese.

A lack of sleep and living in a temperature-controlled environment were two of the things Allison's study pointed to as possible culprits. He says this new research does not prove that by simply turning down the air and getting more sleep you will not become obese, but instead, these are simply lifestyle factors you can play with to manage your weight.

Obesity is a complex disease with a multitude of factors that need to be explored, Allison says. Stay tuned for more.

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