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Fat dogs are cool, obese people may be, too

August 14, 2011 - Washington

A University of South Carolina Salkehatchie professor has found that fat dogs have lower body temperature, suggesting that obese people may also be having cooler bodies.

Dr. Roberto Refinetti, a professor of psychology and associate dean, studied the relationship between body temperature and body weight in lean and obese dogs.

His findings showed that obese dogs have lower body temperature than lean dogs, and the difference in temperature is enough to account for weight gain.

Refinetti's study explored the theory that Obesity may result from a less obvious reduction in energy expenditure: a reduction in body temperature.

The idea is that warm-blooded animals spend much of their energy generating heat to keep the body warm. However, some animals have body temperatures that are naturally lower and therefore do not need to use as much energy to stay warm.

The reduced body temperature would be sufficient to account for body weight gain over several months.

"Although not yet replicated in humans, these results suggest that human Obesity may be caused by a small reduction in the temperature at which the body maintains itself," said Refinetti, who collaborated with researchers from the University of Messina in Sicily, Italy.

The study was published in the Aug. 10 issue of the International Journal of Obesity.


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