Turning up your thermostat could be to blame for your ballooning waistline, according to a new study published online in the Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism. While high temperatures can be comforting on cold days, it’s upsizing your weight.

But being regularly exposed to mild cold may help reduce obesity, say researchers. It’s all about balance, and obesity occurs when the amount of calories you consume is not counterbalanced by the amount of calories you burn. When we egress from our thermal neutral zone, we need to burn more calories to heat or cool ourselves. Cold temperatures increases non-shivering thermogenesis, which activates brown adipose tissue, thereby burning calories.

The authors propose temperature training – periodic exposure to mild cold between 18 and 19 °C to active this process. They also note that older people are more vulnerable to sudden cold exposure: getting acclimatised to cold through temperature training could make them less vulnerable to sudden cold exposure and help contribute to healthy ageing. And lowering temperatures in our homes and offices where we spend most of our time could also help reduce energy consumption.