Do you ever stop to think about what an incredibly complex machine your body is?
I have to admit I can go chugging along for days or even weeks on end without giving it a single thought and then something comes along that makes me sit back and marvel at what an intricate piece of equipment each of us is running.
Battling the bulge? Be more social
That’s how I felt when I read about a study published in the journal Cell Metabolism that revealed the strange impact our social life can have on our body fat. It turns out that the spare tire you’re hauling around could have as much to do with the friends you keep as how you’re stocking your pantry, or how much time you’re spending on exercise.
I know it sounds a bit bizarre, but let me explain.
Researchers at Ohio State University found that when mice are given a more engaging environment to live in, with lots of opportunities for getting together and socializing with other mice, their bodies start converting some of their energy-storing white fat (that’s where all those extra calories get stored) into energy-burning brown fat.
In other words the socially stimulated mice started effortlessly expending more energy and naturally losing weight… even as they ate more.
Mice ate MORE but lost 50% of belly fat!
The fat loss was so extreme that the stunned researchers declared it was far more than you would get were they to have had the mice sweat it out on a treadmill. In fact, by the end of four weeks the social butterflies had engaged and played their way into ditching a staggering 50 percent of their belly fat!
And by all accounts they had a heck of a good time doing it too.
According to experts it’s typically quite a challenge to trigger the body to switch from white to brown fat…usually requiring months of exposure to cold. But according to the results of this study an engaging environment might be just as effective at inducing that switch.
Now of course neither you nor I are a mouse. But just like our little furry friends our loneliness has been linked with poor health and there’s every reason to believe that the lessons learned in this experiment can translate to our own lives and could help us finally shed some of that belly fat.
And while the obesity epidemic we’re now facing has many layers… including our increasingly poor diet and sedentary lifestyle.. .it looks like we may need to add an increasing lack of real-life social stimulation to the mix (no Facebook doesn’t count).
So get out there and mingle. Both your waistline and your health may depend on it.