As summer becomes a distant memory, evenings sitting in the garden are replaced with curling up in front of the TV with the heating on … or off. Personal preference varies and but there is often said to be a big gender divide when it comes to feeling the cold. But why would men and women have such different temperature comfort ranges? The biggest factor in all of this is the skin.
FYI: Do Fat People Stay Warmer Than Thin People?
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At the yearly Rottnest Channel Swim in Western Australia, participants often smear their bodies with animal fat for insulation against the degree water. But their own body fat also helps to keep them warm, like an extra layer of clothing beneath the skin. When scientists studied aspects of the event in , they found that swimmers with a greater body mass index BMI appear to be at much lower risk of getting hypothermia. Studies have shown that it takes longer to induce hypothermia in obese patients than in their leaner counterparts. Under certain conditions, though, overweight people might feel colder than people of average weight.
In the first study of its kind, Cambridge biological anthropologists have shown that muscle mass is able to predict the rate of heat loss from the hands during severe cold exposure, while body mass, stature and fat mass do not. According to Stephanie Payne, lead author of the study published this week in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology , "Hands have a large surface area-to-volume ratio, which can be a challenge to maintaining thermal balance in cold conditions. We wanted to study the influence of body size and body composition on heat loss and rewarming in the hands to determine whether they affect hand temperature and dexterity in cold conditions. These results are important for understanding our thermoregulation the body's ability to regulate its temperature , according to Payne.