Living at High Altitudes May Ward Off Obesity

Woman in mountains

Living at higher altitudes might help you control your weight, according to a new study published in PLOS One.

Researchers looked at the health records of over 98,000 U.S. military personnel between 2006 and 2012. They found that people stationed at high altitudes (1.2 miles above sea level or more) were 41% less likely to become obese compared to people serving at lower altitudes (0.6 miles or fewer) – even after they adjusted for starting BMI, sex, race and age.

According to The New York Times, prior studies have also shown that people living in low-altitude countries are about four times more likely to be obese than people living in high-altitude ones, for unknown reasons.

The study’s authors suggest that certain appetite-controlling hormones, such as leptin, tend to rise at higher altitudes – perhaps explaining the difference. However, they cautioned that further study was needed to explain how exactly altitude helps weight control.