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Racial difference in body core temperature between Pima Indian and Caucasian men


, : Racial difference in body core temperature between Pima Indian and Caucasian men. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders 19(1): 1-5

A low body temperature is associated with a low metabolic rate for a given body size and body composition. These two traits might have been assets in the history of a population subjected to cycles of feast and famine, but became part of an obesity-prone syndrome in our westernized society characterized by plenty of food and a sedentary lifestyle. We tested whether Pima Indians have lower body temperatures than Caucasians, a trait which might partly explain the high prevalence of obesity in this population. Twenty-five Pima Indian (28 +- 6 yrs, 87.8 +- 22.8 kg, 29 +- 9% body fat) and 25 Caucasian (30 +- 5 yrs, 80.7 +- 18.4 kg, 22 +- 11% body fat) men had body core temperatures measured by telemetry for 24 h while in a respiratory chamber. Mean daily body core temperature was 36.93 +- 0.12 and 36.90 +- 0.22 degree C in Pima Indians and Caucasians, respectively. Since body core temperature during sleep (SLBCT) correlated with percentage body fat, a subset of 10 Pima Indians and 10 Caucasians were pair-matched for body weight and percentage body fat. In this group, SLBCT was lower in Pima Indians than in Caucasians (36.45 +- 0.10 vs 36.65 +- 0.27 degree C; P lt 0.01) and, ethnic group accounted for 20% of the variance in SLBCT (P lt 0.01). Surprisingly, the lower SLBCT was not associated with a low metabolic rate and therefore does not seem to play a role in the etiology of obesity in Pima Indians. More studies during cold exposure and/or energy restriction are needed to test whether the maintenance of a lower body temperature might be involved in the pathogenesis of obesity in some populations.

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PMID: 7719384


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