A Danish researcher claims he has discovered yet another reason to combat the rise of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere: it is making us fat.
According to the researcher, orexins, neuropeptide hormones in the brain that regulate energy, are negatively affected by CO2 — making us more tired and hungry, Science Nordic reports.
Lars-Georg Hersoug of the Research Centre for Prevention and Health at Glostrup University Hospital tracked obesity over a 22-year span. He found that both thin and obese people gained proportionally similar weight over that period.
“The normal theory is that fat people get fatter because they don’t move as much as they should,” Hersoug told Science Nordic. “But the study showed that thin people also get fatter, and this happened over the whole of the 22-year period of the study.”
According to Hersoug, there is evidence and other studies to back up his claim. For example, in America obesity rose most quickly on the east coast — where CO2 concentrations are relatively high. Further, a 2010 study of 20,000 animals in different labs with controlled diets all put on weight.
“The probability that all animals of eight different species put on weight from random causes is one in 10,000,000,” Hersoug said. “This indicates that the animals were affected by environmental factors — and you can speculate on what these environmental factors are.”
He further pointed to a 2007 study which found that blood’s acidity — the more CO2, the more acidic — negatively affects orexins.
Hersoug believes the way to combat the environmental, allegedly fattening CO2 is to exercise and and eat more fruits and vegetables. Ironically, the same formula for weight-loss most doctors advocate: exercise and eat healthier!
“We know already that a sedentary lifestyle is a risk factor for many diseases,” he said. “According to our theory, this may be because of the higher acidity in the blood arising from a sedentary lifestyle indoors in a CO2 concentration that is higher than it is outdoors.”
“If you’re out running, you get your blood circulating and you can pump much of the CO2 out of your body, so our hypothesis is really further evidence that exercise is healthy,” he said. “And exercise may be even more necessary in the future, when we can expect even higher CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.”
Hersoug added that fruits and vegetables can also lower blood’s acidity.