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Winter Weight Gain Might Be Affected by Lack of Sunlight, Study Suggests


Many of us know the feeling of putting on a few pounds during the wintertime. Let’s face it: This season is known for holiday feasts, biting cold weather, and cozy nights when all we want to do is sit by the fireplace. But as it turns out, winter weight gain might not entirely be our fault, according to a breakthrough study.

University of Alberta researchers found that the fat cells that lie just beneath our skin shrink when exposed to the blue light emitted by the sun.

“When the sun’s blue light wavelengths — the light we can see with our eye — penetrate our skin and reach the fat cells just beneath, lipid droplets reduce in size and are released out of the cell. In other words, our cells don’t store as much fat,” said Peter Light, PhD, senior author of the study.

Dr. Light added: “If you flip our findings around, the insufficient sunlight exposure we get eight months of the year living in a northern climate may be promoting fat storage and contribute to the typical weight gain some of us have over winter.”

However, Light did want to caution people that exposure to sunlight is not a safe or recommended way to lose weight. He also pointed out that this finding is only an initial observation, and researchers don’t know yet how intense sunlight needs to be before it can cause select fat cells to shrink.

That said, this is a fascinating find, and — in our opinions — the best news we’ve heard all day. Who else is ready to blame those five stubborn extra pounds on the sun?

h/t Eureka Alert

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