A study of over 35,000 Britons shows that the average body temperature is 36.6°C.
The earth is getting hotter and we’re getting colder. According to research published in eLife, our body temperature is dropping. Researchers have analyzed changes in body temperature since the mid-19th century and now find that the average is 36.6°C. Since 1851, the scientific community has considered a normal temperature to be between 37 and 37.5°C.
A standard established in the 19th century
In 1851, a German physicist, Carl Reinhold August Wunderlich, measured the temperature of 25,000 patients. He concluded that the body temperature of a human being is between 37 and 37.5°C. Since then, this has remained the standard.
In the early 2000s, a compilation of studies questioned Wunderlich’s conclusions and stated that the average temperature is 36.6°C. Recently, American researchers wanted to verify the accuracy of these results.
In total, researchers have studied nearly 700,000 temperature measurements taken since 1862. Their findings suggest that the human body temperature is decreasing by about 0.03°C per decade. Today, the average body temperature is 0.59°C lower than in the early 19th century. The reasons for these variations remain unknown. They assume that this could be related to a better healthier lifestyle of the population, medical progress, reduced level of inflammation or increased standard of living. The scientists claim that this decrease cannot be due to the different methods or tools of measurement, because their research was conducted with this possible bias in mind.
An indicator of good health
The researchers insist on the need for their study: these results are anything but anecdotal because a change in body temperature has consequences on the metabolism. It is related to longevity, body mass, but also to general health.