If the winter blues have got you feeling 'meh' and you're dreaming of escaping on a winter break somewhere hot and sunny, then a new study has just given you another excuse to get booking.
It turns out that the inevitable winter weight gain most of us experience during the colder months could be down to a lack of sunlight...
*Of course, it has nothing whatsoever to do with all the cheese we consume over Christmas.*
Yep, according to scientists from the University of Alberta in Canada, the fat cells that lie just underneath our skin may shrink when exposed to sunlight.
So it stands to reason that spending a dreary few months living in the cold and dark might impact our waistlines, they argue.
'When the sun's blue light wavelengths – the light we can see with our eye – penetrate our skin and reach the fat cells just beneath, lipid droplets reduce in size and are released out of the cell. In other words, our cells don't store as much fat,' explained study author Peter Light.
'If you flip our findings around, the insufficient sunlight exposure we get eight months of the year living in a northern climate may be promoting fat storage and contribute to the typical weight gain some of us have over winter.'
We knew we weren't to blame...
The team discovered this effect by chance while investigating whether fat cells could be bioengineered to respond to light in order to help Type 1 diabetes patients.
'It's early days, but it's not a giant leap to suppose that the light that regulates our circadian rhythm, received through our eyes, may also have the same impact through the fat cells near our skin,' he added.
Of course, the researchers were also keen to emphasise that this is just an initial observation, more research is needed, and sunlight definitely can't be recommended as a weight loss method, we've just found another excuse for a last-minute holiday.
The research was published in the journal Scientific Reports by Nature.
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