"Pay my troops no mind; they're just on a fact-finding mission."

Is Air Conditioning A Cause of Obesity?

It’s over 100 degrees and there’s no climate control.

What do you crave more?

A big greasy burger with salty fries?


Lots of fruit and salad?

In the past people ate with the seasons and not just because lots of foods weren’t available all year round but because you feel like eating different things depending on the weather.

Our bodies pick up on seasonal signals. Appetite and food preference change accordingly.

But what if you’re stuck in an office all day long?
The air is always crisp and chill. You live your life in a perpetual autumn. Winter is coming. The harvest is finished.

Autumn is the time of year for bacon, ham, apples, turkey, gravy…
So that bacon cheeseburger is what’s for lunch…every day.

I came to this realization when I performed an experiment on myself.

In the summer of 2010, I was living in Las Vegas, Nevada.

I turned off the AC for a couple of weeks just to see what it was like.

As my body tried to cope with the 110-112 degree heat, my appetite plummeted.
All I ever wanted to eat was watermelons and cucumbers.
I’d go through multiple lemons a day drinking tons of lemon water.
I relied heavily on the quinine content in tonic water to make me feel just a bit cooler and would go to sleep wrapped in wet towels.

The human body disperses heat better when it is leaner, so my body was doing its job, desperately trying to shed extra mass as quickly as possible.

By the end of my experiment, the 90 degree lows at night felt very cool and comfortable. Air conditioned buildings felt icy inside. My body was adjusting.

My trial run finished, I realized that in the past, people must have gained weight in the autumn and then lost it all again in the summer. It all balanced out.

But perhaps those ancient instincts malfunction when we live all year round at a constant ideal temperature and thus become a contributing factor behind the trend of obesity.


6 responses to “Is Air Conditioning A Cause of Obesity?

  1. Pingback: Daily Linkage – December 22, 2012 | The Second Estate

  2. beta_plus December 22, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    I think that there is something to that, but I still believe the main driving factor is that women in obese countries refuse to make the sacrifices necessary to cook for their children.

    Also, Las Vegas is a dry heat. Us east coasters would accuse you of cheating 😉

    • Giovanni Dannato December 22, 2012 at 10:57 pm

      I was in DC without electricity for 3 straight days in 100 degree heat when the Derecho hit. Had that horrible experience.

      But it doesn’t even come close to Vegas and Phoenix.

      Both suffer from what they call ‘city island effect’ all those square miles of concrete and asphalt trap tons of heat.
      Ordinarily, even in the hottest desert, the temperature will plummet 40 degrees at night and it’s always relatively cool in the shade.
      In Vegas or Phoenix, you’re in a big oven and sometimes night-time lows barely dip below 100 degrees. The heat is relentless around the clock.

      Even worse, the humidity can get surprisingly high when it’s 115 degrees out with all the swimming pools, ponds, artificial lakes, lawns, and sprinklers.
      At those kinds of temperatures, even the sewer system steams up the town with nasty fumes and you’re stuck at the very bottom of a valley where anything that evaporates tends to get trapped.

  3. stonerwithaboner December 22, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    I noticed I’d drop weight during the summer….

    I thought it was cause I spent more time outdoors and longer sunlight…..

    It was a moderate summer, I didn’t drop any weight this year….

  4. stonerwithaboner December 22, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    oh, if it’s cold out, try spicey ethnic food, that seems to counteract the craving for greasy food….

    (even though some can be both-I love me some carne asada burritoes)

    I know traditionally people at spicey to induce sweating in hot climates but it seems to work the other way…

  5. sunhater December 23, 2012 at 4:02 am

    During summer we reach 40 °C often with high humidity and my family keep the air conditioning on all day long, I hate that machine it is so “unnatural”, it also cause moderate dehydratation.
    Since I am mediterranean I thrive with temperatures beetween 30 and 40 °C, I even used to go jogging at 6 pm (without suffering heatstrokes). Nevertheless I kept eating meat and fatty food without problems.

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