Dutch researchers say keeping temperatures a little chillier at home and the office might be an additional weapon in the fight against obesity.
"What would it mean if we let our bodies work again to control body temperature?" said study author Dr. Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt, an associate professor in the department of human biology at Maastricht University Medical Center.
His team explored whether frequent exposure to mild cold temperatures would boost the body's energy expenditure. In other words, would peoples' metabolisms ratchet up a notch -- burning more calories -- if they lived on the cool side?
Prior studies have shown that shivering increases heat production in people, according to the study. And one Japanese study found that people experienced a drop in body fat after spending two hours a day for six weeks at a temperature of about 63 degrees Fahrenheit.
Earlier research from the Dutch team showed that people gradually acclimate themselves to cooler room temperatures. People who spent six hours a day at 59 degrees Fahrenheit felt more comfortable and shivered less by the end of 10 days in this environment, the researchers found.
So how much time sitting in a chilly room would it take to burn, say, 100 calories? It's too early to know, said van Marken Lichtenbelt.
Read more from WebMD.