Terry O’Donnell’s research at the University of Otago Wellington
The influence of temperature on energy balance
MEDICAL RESEARCH STORY I 26 November 2015
Due to modern technology and building design, the environments in which we live and work are becoming warmer. One consequence of these more stable environments is that we may be expending less energy to regulate the temperature in our bodies. As obesity is caused by an imbalance between our food intake and the energy we expend each day, environmental conditions that cause us to burn less energy can only contribute to rising obesity rates. This may be particularly the case in office workspaces, where people can be exposed to a combination of high stable temperatures, sedentary work and access to high calorie foods.
The new Energetics and Environmental Simulation Suite at the Centre for Translational Physiology will allow researchers such as PhD student Terry O’Donnell to investigate how environmental conditions influence energy expenditure. Participants will be asked to spend their working day inside the simulation suite under differing temperature conditions. Terry’s project will assess the physiological response of both stable and fluctuating temperatures. It is hoped that this research will allow the team to identify the mechanisms that regulate energy balance as our environmental conditions are altered. A better understanding of the physiological responses will allow researchers to develop more targeted obesity prevention and treatment programs in the future.