Why do you gain weight in the winter? Most of us assume it's because we're comfort eating and not exercising enough.
But scientists at the University of Alberta think that it could be the result of a lack of sunshine.
Researchers stumbled across the findings while they were investigating how to bioengineer fat cells to produce insulin in response to light in order to help Type 1 diabetes patients.
They noticed the lipid droplets in the cells near the surface of the skin were shrinking when exposed to the light.
The implication is that when exposed to blue light emitted by the sun, cells end up holding onto less fat.
Writing about the study, Peter Light, senior author of the study and director of Alberta University’s Diabetes Institute said:
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.
That's why you are not supposed to look at digital devices before bed because they emit the same blue light the sun does, that signals us to wake up," he explained.
Well, perhaps that pathway -- exposure to sunlight that directs our sleep-wake patterns -- may also act in a sensory manner, setting the amount of fat humans burn depending on the season. You gain weight in the winter, and then burn it off in the summer.
Now, this doesn’t mean you should start using sunbeds in the winter, and researchers are quick to point out it’s an “initial first observation”.
Prolonged exposure to sunlight is unhealthy and can damage your skin a multitude of ways.