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Undersea Biomed Res. 1988 Mar;15(2):123-34.

Role of body fat in the prediction of the metabolic response for immersion in cold water.

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Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine, Downsview, Ontario, Canada.


Several empirical models for predicting the metabolic response to a lowered body temperature have been evaluated against available data of young healthy males immersed in cold water under resting conditions. Nude immersions took place in 20 and 24 degrees C water for 1 h, and clothed immersions took place in 10 and 15 degrees C for 3 h. The data were pooled according to low and high percent body fat (%BF). Decreases in the mean weighted skin temperature (Tsk) ranged from 5.3 to 11.9 degrees C and decreases in the core temperature (Tc) ranged from 0.56 to 1.54 degrees C, while increases in the metabolic rate over the immersion period ranged from 34 to 256 W. Through regression analysis, an inverse relationship between %BF and the metabolic response for a given lowered Tsk and lowered Tc was established. When this relationship was explicitly applied to the models, significant improvements in their predictive capability were found. Variables such as body weight, body surface area, and the rate of change of Tsk were not found to contribute to the predictive capability of the models.

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