Why do some people freeze while talking
Do fat people freeze less?
Body fat protects against the cold. This was proven more than 50 years ago in a study at the University of Cambridge. For more than 30 minutes, the test subjects had to endure in water at 15 degrees Celsius. Anyone who had a layer of fat four millimeters long cooled down by two degrees, with eight millimeters of fat it was only one degree. Numerous other studies with similar results followed.
If love handles protect against cold water, do they keep us warm even in winter outside temperatures? we ask Cem Ekmekcioglu from the Institute for Environmental Hygiene, Center for Public Health, at the Medical University of Vienna: "Whether you are cold depends on several factors," the doctor, scientist and nutrition expert predicts: "One factor is muscle mass. Through muscle contractions a lot of energy can be converted. People with more muscle mass can therefore generate more heat and are in a certain way protected from the effects of cold. "
The ratio of body surface area to body mass also plays an important role in freezing or not freezing. Ekmekcioglu: "Anyone who has a large body surface area with less body mass loses more heat and can therefore freeze more than someone who has a smaller surface area in relation to their mass."
Brown and white adipose tissue
Babies and toddlers have a large body surface area in relation to their body mass, which is why they lose more heat than adults. Nevertheless, at least in the first months of life, they are protected from hypothermia by a higher proportion of body heat-generating brown adipose tissue.
Basically, a distinction is made between two types of adipose tissue: White or univacuolar fat occurs in large quantities. Its cells are characterized by large drops of fat. The brown or multivacuolar adipose tissue, on the other hand, has cells with a large number of fat droplets.
There is hardly any brown adipose tissue in adult humans. With some animal species, on the other hand, it does: At the end of hibernation, it is used to raise the body temperature back to "operating temperature" in just a few hours.
Subcutaneous fat as an insulator
"Fat pads can be an advantage under extreme conditions," says Ekmekcioglu. "The subcutaneous fatty tissue under the skin conducts heat more poorly than other tissues." The result is a certain insulating effect - at least in cooler water, because this draws about 20 times more heat from the body than air and therefore leads to faster hypothermia.
Ekmekcioglu, however, doubts whether the isolating effect of adipose tissue is also relevant for staying on land. "If everyone in Vienna were walking around naked in winter, those with more love handles would have an advantage." But civilization in our latitudes is characterized by the wearing of clothes, and these have an insulating effect, similar to fatty tissue. "If I put on clothes that reduce the air currents on the surface of the skin, such as a down jacket or an angora sweater, then this is very good insulation. It allows me to get through the winter with less fatty tissue," says Ekmekcioglu.
The author of the book "Voll fett: oder: Everything you should know about nutrition" strongly advises against the plan to feed yourself a layer of fat against freezing: "That doesn't do anything at all. Too lean constitution with a body mass index ( BMI) under 19 is not ideal either, but too much fat - especially belly fat - is a risk factor for metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular diseases. "A hibernator has to build up fat," says Ekmekcioglu, "we are not hibernators, we have to not. "(Eva Tinsobin, derStandard.at)
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