Science debunks another myth. Do you lose 75% of your body heat through your head? Can this be true? Probably not considering all the numbers thrown around. In various places, the numbers range from 40% upwards to 80%. What is the true number? It is probably closer to 10% of body heat loss is through the head.
This myth, it is believed, has its origins in a study done by the U.S. Army back in the 1950’s. In this particular study, volunteers were taken to the Arctic and then were dressed from neck to toe in cold weather gear. Since the volunteers were hatless in extreme cold conditions, it was found that body heat loss was mostly from the head. How could any other conclusion be made? This data was then used by the writer of a U.S Army survival manual, produced in the 1970’s, to suggest that hats be worn in cold weather conditions because “40 to 45% percent of the body heat is lost through the head.”
The fact of the matter is, and this is plain, simple physics, the greater the surface area, the greater the heat loss. The area of the body that has the greatest surface area is the trunk or torso area. Keeping this area covered will go a long way toward conserving body heat. The arms and legs also are areas to think about keeping covered. The head, as vascular as it is, only accounts for about 10% of heat loss.
Even though this myth has been busted. It is still a good idea to keep your head covered in cold weather conditions. Remember what mom always said, “Wear your hat or you will catch a cold.” Or is that just a myth too?
Wilderness Medicine Newsletter; http://wildernessmedicinenewsletter.wordpress.com/2007/02/14/heat-loss-through-the-head-and-hypothermia/
Healthline; Do You Lose Most of Your Heat Through Your Head?; Jolie Bookspan; http://www.healthline.com/blogs/exercise_fitness/2009/03/do-you-lose-most-of-your-heat-through.html