Have heard about winter weight gain? If your clothes seem to be a little tighter than usual it's not just because of sheer gluttony - it could be because of the lack of sun exposure.
The scientists at the University of Alberta found that the fat cells beneath our skin can actually shrink when exposed to the blue light emitted by the sun.
"When the sun's blue light wavelengths - the light we can see with our eye - penetrate our skin and reach the fat cells just beneath, lipid droplets reduce in size and are released out of the cell. In other words, our cells don't store as much fat," explained Peter Light, lead author of the study.
The researchers believe that the opposite could be true as well explaining the winter weight gain – as exposure to sunlight is limited during winter and the days are also shorter.
"If you flip our findings around, the insufficient sunlight exposure we get eight months of the year living in a northern climate may be promoting fat storage and contribute to the typical weight gain some of us have over winter," the pharmacology professor added.
Researchers, however, mentioned that the finding is only an initial observation and that exposure to sunlight is not a recommended way to lose weight.
"For example, we don't yet know the intensity and duration of light necessary for this pathway to be activated," Light mentioned.
This could, however, help in future scientific exploration which could someday lead to light-based treatments for obesity and other related health issues like diabetes.
"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," he mentioned.
He explained saying that possibly that's the reason 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."
"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," he added.