Overeating in Winter – Factual or Mythical?


A time has come when people are not able to resist that temptation of having a large cheese-oozing pizza or that sweet filled with butter. But is it that people have lost control over their eating habits or that they have lost the ability to work on it?

Surprisingly, it is none of those reasons! Scientifically explained by researchers at University of Exeter, they say that the above temptations hold reasonable, especially in the winter season.

The researchers assorted to using computer modelling for prediction of the fat storage by animals, with a premise of natural selection by animals (including humans) to strategize for maintaining the healthiest weight. This model works in a way that the animal should possess a target body weight above which it loses weight and gains weight for when it’s below this threshold. This is carried out by the model predicting the manner in which amount of fat is stored by the animal to respond to the availability of food and predicts the risk factor of being killed by a predator when foraging.


The resulting simulations showed that there is a slight negative effect of energy stores that exceed the standard level such that subconsciously, working against becoming overweight is weak. Hence, easily misled by the urges of tasty food. Andrew Higginson, from the University of Exeter said, “You would expect evolution to have given us the ability to realize when we have eaten enough, but instead we show little control when faced with artificial food”. He suggests that New Years is not the best time to begin a new diet since storing fat works as an insurance against the risk of failing to find food. And this was more likely in winters, for pre-industrial humans.

One of the reasons attributed to this could be the modicum activity undertaken during the winters. Of course, sport enthusiasts exercise no matter what the season is. But some prefer staying within the walls of their house when temperatures drop, increasing the chances of consuming far more. Ira Ockene, a cardiologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, points towards his own research which has documented that calorie intake increases as the weather turns colder.

To avoid such cravings during harsh winter months, researchers suggest that one must fuel up on foods with richness in Omega-3 fatty acids like in oily fish. Maybe that would lessen such tasty but, unhealthy temptations!

The original article can be accessed here.