Obesity, Stress and Central Heating

It is 9pm at night and I am racing through Youtube typing in different combinations of ‘Weight Loss and neuroscience’… ‘Obesity and the Brain…’ ‘Hypnotherapy and losing weight…’ It isn’t working and I am tired.

But about a week ago I watched an extraordinary video on this topic. A lecture from, if I recall correctly, Edinburgh University that was just fascinating and headlined some of the surprising reasons that modern science has for our obesity crisis in the UK. They were so unbelievably bonkers but, actually fundamentally logical conclusions that I wanted to consider them in this blog. Problem is, I can’t find the video so starting to wonder if I dreamed hearing it. If not, please someone send me the link so that I can credit this University lecturer for a profoundly insightful hour’s viewing.

It was stated that one of the reasons being considered for our country’s rising obesity stats was actually central heating! The professor stated that, as we have become more educated on food, our consumption of fats, sugars and bulky carbs has actually decreased over the years. In fact, the only food group which has seen a rise in consumption in the last 20 years is fruit and veg. So why, as a nation, are we suffering from obesity?

So the theory under the microscope is Central Heating! When we eat, our bodies use the food to fuel our daily movements. If we look at how the body distributes energy then we would find that 10% of the energy produced is used to digest food whilst only 30% is used in daily activity. That leaves 60% which the body uses to… regulate temperature. It seems logical, right? The temperature of our environment changes so rapidly that this must require a huge volume of calories to maintain status quo. In the age of efficient central heating, smart heating and regulated heating our bodies no longer have to work as hard on this process. The result? We don’t burn off the excess and store it as fat!

Could it be that simple? Turn the heat down and we will get thin? I wish I could find that video and re-watch…

Or could it be that stress is more powerful in weight gain than central heating… Again, another logical argument. When we were cavemen / women we were constantly stressed. We, kind of, had to be to ward off wild animals, survive harsh environments and hunt and gather food. And in times of high stress, what do our bodies do? Well, they are so smart that they would prioritise our spare energy. If we had to run away from a grizzly bear our body would redirect all energy towards flight or fight and certainly would not waste energy, at that moment, on digesting food. As we have evolved from primitive man our bodies perform in largely the same way. If we are constantly stressed then our bodies may react by consistently slowing down digestion and, hence, putting on weight. Or, indeed, would our bodies store food as fat so that we had enough reserve energy to ward off the threat of the grizzly bear or, in a more modern analogy, the shoulder-high in-tray of jobs to do at work.

As much as I like the central heating theory, the caveman analogy puts the control of our weight back in our own hands. That by de-stressing we are hindering the evolutionary processes that would cause us to gain weight. I am glad to be practising hypnotherapy, therefore. Having seen my clients lose weight through this process I know that it can be so supportive in this area. To de-stress and lose weight in one treatment is a double bubble. It takes a few weeks but the impact is demonstrable…

If all else fails – turn the heat down…

Thank you to whoever it was for a fine lecture