Industrialized nations are currently experiencing an obesity epidemic, the causes of which are not fully known. One possible mechanism of enhanced energy efficiency that has received almost no attention is a reduction in the metabolic cost of homeothermy, which could be achieved by a modest lowering of body core temperature. We evaluated the potential of this obesity-inducing mechanism in a canine model of the metabolic syndrome.
We compared the rectal temperature of lean dogs and obese dogs by (a) conducting cross-sectional measurements in 287 dogs of many breeds varying greatly in body size, (b) conducting longitudinal measurements in individual dogs over 7–10 years and (c) tracking rectal temperature of lean and obese dogs at 3-h intervals for 48 consecutive hours in the laboratory.
We found that larger dogs have lower rectal temperatures than smaller dogs and that, for the same body mass, obese dogs have lower rectal temperatures than lean dogs. The results were consistent in the cross-sectional, longitudinal and around-the-clock measurements.
These findings document an association between obesity and reduced body temperature in dogs and support the hypothesis that obesity in this and other species of homeotherms may result from an increase in metabolic efficiency achieved by a regulated lowering of body temperature.
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The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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Piccione, G., Giudice, E., Fazio, F. et al. Association between obesity and reduced body temperature in dogs. Int J Obes 35, 1011–1018 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2010.253
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