The Scandinavian nations boast some of the healthiest people on earth, with Iceland, Sweden, and Finland placing in the top 3 on Forbes’ list of the healhiest nations (Norway was disqualified for filling out its paperwork in troll blood).
I always assumed that the good health of those people was due to their outdoorsy lifestyle and — let’s not mince words here — vomitous cuisine. But if this New York Times article is to be believed, it may have more to do with the fact that most Scandinavians live in ice palaces carved into the sides of glaciers.
As it turns out, the human body contains a substance called brown fat that can burn huge quantities of calories when activated. To activate the fat, you merely have to sit on your ass in a room that is between 61 and 66 degrees.
Doctors discovered this by running several trials in which human test subjects were asked to sit in a chilly room for a few hours and submit to blood tests. Just kidding — they froze the shit out of some mice:
Recently, Dr. Kozak put mice predisposed to obesity in a cold room, 41 degrees, for a week. The animals activated their brown fat. As a result, they lost 14 percent of their weight, which constituted 47 percent of their body fat, while eating a high-fat diet with two and a half times more calories than they had consumed at room temperature.
“That’s just by going out in the cold, without any drug treatment,” Dr. Kozak said. But, he cautioned, mice, small animals with a comparatively huge surface area, are easily chilled. “Put the mouse in the cold,” he added, “and it becomes a heat producing machine.”
Brown fat is common in babies, though most doctors thought it disappeared as people grew older. However, recent tests indicate that adult humans have hidden pockets of brown fat scattered throughout the body — such as on the sides of our necks. Thinner people and those with lower blood sugar tend to have more brown fat, indicating that active quantities of the stuff are burning calories faster than in fat people.
In other news, I’m moving to L.A. next week to open a chain called Pax Arcana’s Brown Fat Activation Emporium. I think we can all agree that forcing aging celebrities to sit in a freezing ass room for 8 hours at a time can be both hilarious and profitable!
Calorie-Burning Fat? Studies Say You Have It [NYT]