The childhood obesity epidemic ain't pretty. Around one in every five children aged 10 to 11 are considered medically obese so with obesity becoming a real cause for concern here in the UK this comes as some enlightening news.
A recent study on mice found exposure to sunshine could help slow down weight gain and ward off signs of type 2 diabetes.
Researchers in Edinburgh, Southhamptom and Australia found that shining UV light on overweight mice made them less hungry and therefore less susceptible to obesity.
It's not what you're thinking though. Vitamin D didn't actually play a role in helping cut down these symptoms.
The results were linked to ‘nitric oxide’ which is discharged from the skin after exposure to sunlight. To put the results to the test, scientists used a cream containing the same compound which also showed similar results.
The study also discovered that the mice displayed fewer symptoms of type 2 diabetes such as abnormal glucose levels and insulin resistance.
But don't get too excited. More research is needed to see if humans have the same effect. The reason comes from the fact that the lab mice are normally nocturnal animals who are exposed to very little sunlight anyway. Saying that, it does raise questions to whether sunlight can have a direct effect on our cravings.
Evidence shows that sunlight can help us battle a host of medical conditions such as depression, heart disease, a weak immune system and even some cancers. But at the same time, it's still one of the major causes of skin cancer.
So what’s the deal? One minute health experts are telling us to avoid the sun like the plague and the next minute, we’re told that it may help us reverse obesity.
Experts recommend having a balanced view when it comes to considering how much time we spend in the sun. Senior lecturer in dermatology at the University of Edinburgh, Dr Richard Weller, says "We know from epidemiology studies that sun-seekers live longer than those who spend their lives in the shade. Studies such as this one are helping us to understand how the sun can be good for us.
"We need to remember that skin cancer is not the only disease that can kill us and should perhaps balance our advice on sun exposure."
Lead author from the Telethon Kids Institute in Western Australia, Dr Shelley Gorman, adds, ”They suggest that casual skin exposure to sunlight, together with plenty of exercise and a healthy diet, may help prevent the development of obesity in children."
So the question remains, should we spend more time in the sun or lay low in the shade? Based on findings it really comes down to personal choice and it comes down to risk versus benefit. For us, balance is key.
Are you taking heed of this advice? How much sun do you think you need? Tweet us @sofeminineUK!
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