A new study says that babies conceived in the cooler months are more likely to grow up slim and have fewer weight struggles than those in warmer months.
Scientists conducting the study found a link between cold weather conception and larger amounts of brown adipose tissue (BAT) or brown fat, in both humans and mice.
Unlike white fat which is much more common in humans and which is linked to illness including heart disease, cancer and diabetes, BAT burns calories by generating heat and is seen as beneficial in reducing weight and developing metabolic disorders, reports The Telegraph.
The study looked at 8,400 adults, breaking them into two groups: those born between July and November and those born between January and June.
Using CT (computed tomography) scans they were able to tell that the first group, born at cooler times of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere) had higher levels of brown fat that the second.
Previous studies have also backed this up, suggesting that people living in colder regions tend to have higher levels of brown fat.
"Until now, the assumption was that this had something to do with the temperatures people experienced during their lifetime,” said Professor Christian Wolfrum at Zurich’s ETH university who led the research. “But our observations suggest that temperatures prior to conception might also affect later levels of brown fat."
"We need to study the correlation in people more closely,” continued Professor Wolfrum. “But it is likely that the exposure to cold needs to persist over a longer period for it to have an effect on epigenetic programming.”
"Taking a plunge in cold water or spending a short time lying on a block of ice probably won't be enough."
Something to think about on those long, cold winter nights...