Friday, July 24, 2009

OBESITY AND AIR CONDITIONING


The high cost of electricity in Hawaii makes central air conditioning and heating a rarity in Hilo. Fortunately, the temperate climate and frequent trade winds minimize our need to change the temperature. But during weeks, like this past week, with high temperatures combined with high humidity, an AC starts sounding good.

While sweating under the ceiling fan, we are comforting ourselves with a recent study correlating the increase of air conditioning in US homes since the 1970’s with the increase in obesity. Researchers from the National Center for Healthy Housing in Columbia, MD and University of Illinois at Chicago, Ill studied the relationship between housing and the US population’s health over 30 years. The study combined data from serveral surveys of the population and housing of Americans.

Between 1972 and 2002, US households with central air conditioning jumped from 15% to nearly 60%. During that same time period, average BMI’s (Body Mass Index) in the US went from 24.9 to 27.7 (a BMI of 25 and above is considered overweight). The graph below was published in their study.

The researchers believe that the increase in obesity may be linked to the internal housing climate created by central air conditioning and forced heating because the body expends less energy in temperature ranges associated with climate-controlled settings. Improved thermal comfort provides an incentive for people to remain indoors, exercise less, and exert less energy through lower metabolic rates.

We tried out a portable room AC (Commercial Cool) from Walmart which vents out of the window. But using our Kill A Watt Electric Usage Monitor, we determined it cost over $2 an hour to run. The cost usually exceeds the benefit of having a small cooled area in the house.


We keep cool by opening all the windows and doors and using fans to blow directly on us. We notice on days when we swim in the mornings, we are cooler all day long, a strong motivator for us to get to our water aerobics class. Although these hot summer days keep us inside under the ceiling fan and out of the sun, the heat kills our appetite and forces us to drink lots of water, both very beneficial to our weight loss effort.

13 comments:

Grif Frost said...

Aloha! Fascinating coorelation---a/c and obesity. Need to get the word out to everyone who chooses to live/work in airconditioned facilities on Hawaii Island when they could be saving big time energy costs and pounds if they lived/worked in open air facilities which the Hilo climate definitely allows.

We gave up our office space because our clients much preferred meeting in the park...fits with our emphasis on LQ Business.

Will forward to the new energy director for Hawaii County.

Keahi Pelayo said...

Hmmm, I wonder how much it has to do with global warming? Could it be our obsession with TV?
Aloha,
Keahi

Victoria Hokulani said...

Another fascinating post, guys. I never thought about that one. I believe a lot of factors have contributed to obesity, and all of them have the same foundation; cheap and abundant fossil fuel. But when fuel is expensive then we are forced to use our own energy to get the job done. Just as you found, when you calculated the cost of running that air conditioning at $2 an hour. Whew. I barely use $2.50 for the entire day with my average Helco bill running about $75 a month. I had no idea those ac's were such energy guzzlers.

brian said...

AC and Obesity, really interesting relationship. Even myself have the same experience with heat killing my appetite and forcing me to drink lots of water.

Thanks for sharing and keep it up!

Stay Healthy!

Brian
air conditioning Charlotte North Carolina

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Mikes said...

Between 1972 and 2002, US households with central air conditioning jumped from 15% to nearly 60%. We notice on days when we swim in the mornings, we are cooler all day long, a strong motivator for us to get to our water aerobics class.

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Rain said...

I really can't take on hot season, I really need to have an air conditioning all the time when I'm at home. Gosh, trees can help also from giving fresh air that's why my family planted lots of trees around our house.

Bobster0007 said...

I dont know how anyone can go without air anymore cause we are all so used to having it.

Johnson Smith said...

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Emily T said...

Sure, air conditioning is comforting and the AC repair in morris county NJ installed in my home makes me want to roll into a ball and never leave my room.. but if someone is dedicated to working out they will do it! Sitting in a room with no air conditioning, dripping with sweat wouldn't exactly make me want to jump on a treadmill, either..

Richard C. Lambert said...

Although these hot summer days keep us inside under the ceiling fan and out of the sun, the heat kills our appetite and forces us to drink lots of water, both very beneficial to our weight loss effort. home ac repair

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