Swingbellies: Take heed! An international team of top boffins say they have found that sunlight can reduce weight gain - and that they can duplicate the effect with a skin cream.
"Exposure to moderate amounts of sunshine may slow the development of obesity," a university statement announcing the research says. And it goes on:
The beneficial effects of UV treatment were linked to a compound called nitric oxide, which is released by the skin after exposure to sunlight.
Applying a cream containing nitric oxide to the skin had the same effect of curbing weight gain as exposure to UV light ...
So there you have it. One can rub some miracle cream on oneself and then merrily clear out the pie cupboard without any need to get a longer belt.
But wait: sadly it seems that these results have so far been shown only in mice. The statement warns:
The results should be interpreted cautiously, the researchers say, as mice are nocturnal animals covered in fur and not usually exposed to much sunlight. Studies are needed to confirm whether sunshine exposure has the same effect on weight gain and risk of diabetes in people.
And there's worse.
"Our findings are important as they suggest that casual skin exposure to sunlight, together with plenty of exercise and a healthy diet, may help prevent the development of obesity," says Dr Shelley Gorman, one of the boffins who carried out the study.
Frankly, a miracle anti-fatness cream which only works when combined with plenty of exercise and a healthy diet isn't all that miraculous. But still, the research does seem promising. And the cream may not be out yet, but we can all go out in the sunshine more often.
"We know from epidemiology studies that sun-seekers live longer than those who spend their lives in the shade," says Gorman's colleague Dr Richard Weller. "Studies such as this one are helping us to understand how the sun can be good for us. We need to remember that skin cancer is not the only disease that can kill us and should perhaps balance our advice on sun exposure."
The study is published in the journal Diabetes. ®