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Research: Personalized Heating System Helps with Weight Loss

Research:Personalized Heating System Helps with Weight LossKen McLeod, professor of bioengineering at Binghamton University, has made a practice of thinking outside the box.  Most recently he’s put his innovative mindset on the problem of obesity—using a heater.

McLeod started researching body weight when his wife, a superintendent of schools, was mandated with providing obesity reports on students based on body mass index, including the entire football squad. McLeod came to the conclusion that the body is not trying to maintain energy balance — calories in versus calories out — but heat balance. Indeed, body temperature is tightly regulated and rarely varies by more than a few degrees.

He points out that the main benefit of exercising 30 minutes a day, five days a week, is that it increases your core body temperature. When your body temperature goes up, you produce more growth hormones. These hormones increase your metabolism and that keeps your weight in check.

In modern life however, people spend most of their time sitting — not exercising — in temperature-controlled environments that are about 30 degrees cooler than body temperature. While McLeod tackled office comfort and work productivity issues, he realized that physiologic systems are altered in a way that affects body weight.

The conclusion, says McLeod, is find a way to efficiently warm the human body.  In a recent interview with PBS’s Innovation Trail, McLeod explained his rationale:

Listen on Innovation Trail“If we’re not exercising enough to maintain our core temperature, we’re going to do something else; what that something else is, is insulating ourselves from the cold. We lay down white body fat under our skin.”

He noted that while a 1500 watt space heater in your office might help, but it’s an awfully inefficient way to fix 10-20 watts worth of heat imbalance. So he is building a personal heating device that directs warmth right at a person, instead of heating up the air around them.

The Binghamton University professor received Technology Accelerator Fund award from the Research Foundation to develop an infrared heating system using carbon dioxide lasers to efficiently warm the human body. He’ll also do a proof of concept study exposing people to 45 min per day in an infrared sauna and measure effects on body temperature, physiologic measures and long-term body weight changes.

    Maxwell Morgan

      Written by Maxwell Morgan

      Maxwell is the Coordinator of Digital Engagement for The State University of New York.

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      There are 4 comments

    • Great point. I agree completely, and I’m glad you liked the article. It is crazy what some people say will help you lose fat. I’m glad If is working for you too. You have a lot of great information as well.

    • And what about side effects? Whenever I hear about such methods for losing weight it scares me considering so many write ups out there about side effects of methods such as this. I am not trying to write this off though, I am just concerned to know if there has been any check to see if there would be any fatal side effect aside the known ones like headaches, vomiting and the likes.
      I still advice people to explore the natural ways to losing weight first before going for treatments such as this.

    • very good article and useful information , I like reading about weight loss because Obesity is The most dangerous diseases of this era

    • Wow, really interesting article. I never realized the connection between body temperature and weight loss. Nice one! :)

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