Steve Connor: Gain height and you might lose weight
Science Notebook: You can get rid of pounds by simply living on a mountain for a few weeks
Tuesday 16 February 2010
The weight-loss industry is big business in an age when obesity seems to be the post-modern condition, but of all the different ways of shedding fat this one is probably the most pleasant. Scientists have shown that you can get rid of pounds of unwanted adipose tissue by simply living on a mountain for a few weeks.
We're not talking about winter Olympic exercise here, or even walking around more than you would at sea level. A study has shown that simply being at high altitude, even if you continue eating as much as you want, can lead to a significant loss of weight.
Florian Lippl of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich took 20 obese men to an environmental research station sited 2,650m above sea level, about 300m below the summit of mount Zugspitze on the German/Austrian border. The men were taken there by cog railway and cable car so the trip involved no strenuous physical activity. They were also issued with pedometers to make sure they did not walk more than normal.
At the end of one week the men, whose average starting weight was 105kg, had lost about 1.5kg each. That may not seem much, but given that the weight loss was in just one week, it was pretty impressive. Even more impressive was that their blood pressure also dropped and there was a corresponding rise in levels of the hormone leptin, which is linked with appetite. Normally leptin levels fall when food intake decreases.
The men certainly ate less because loss of appetite often happens at high altitudes, but this could not account for all of the weight loss, according to Lippl. The reason for the extra weight loss probably comes down to increased body metabolism because of the thinner mountain air – lower oxygen levels causes the heart to beat faster.
A major problem with this study was that it did not include a corresponding group of obese men who were subjected to a similar investigation at sea level. Nevertheless, despite the lack of a control group, the findings are food for thought. Perhaps sleeping in a hypobaric chamber may become the new dieting.
Star-gazing meets stand-up
The post of President of the Royal Society becomes vacant in November, when the term of the current president, Lord Rees of Ludlow comes to an end. Lord Rees is probably better known as Martin Rees, the popular science writer, master of Trinity College, Cambridge, and Astronomer Royal.
Martin was on top form last week at the annual "science meets the media" party at the Royal Society and is evidently looking forward to his next career as a deadpan stand-up comic. One of my favourite Rees-isms was when I once asked him about what he actually does as Astronomer Royal. "My boy," he said, "the duties of an Astronomer Royal are so exiguous that one could perform them posthumously."
Hot tip for next President of the Royal Society – Sir Paul Nurse, Nobel laureate and all-round good egg.
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
General Election 2015: David Cameron catching up in polls – but he badly needs a clear lead
Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
South Africa xenophobic attacks: Shops looted and violence on streets of Johannesburg as foreigners are forced to hide in police stations
18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...