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“I want you to understand that it is good to feel chilly,” Patrick Rensen says. Though there are different ways to burn calories, Rensen argues there is a fairly straightforward way to achieve this: lower the room temperature.

“Activating brown fat to burn 200 kcal per day,” says Rensen, “can translate to about three kilograms of weight loss per year. We are now investigating whether nutritional and pharmacological interventions may be effective as well.”

As a Professor of Endocrinology at Leiden University Medical Center, Rensen studies the role of sugar and fat metabolism in diabetes and heart disease. In particular, Rensen is investigating something called ‘brown fat’ which is different from the all too familiar ‘white fat’ that tends to collect around our middles. “We know that babies are born with brown fat,” says Rensen, “but we thought it disappeared after a few years…”

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