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Cold Shoulder ice vest promises weight loss through chilling out

A Kickstarter project uses ice packs inside a vest with the idea of making your body work harder to keep warm and burn through calories in the process.

Cold Shoulder vest
Cool off your shoulders in the quest to lose weight. The Cold Shoulder

From the ThighMaster to allegedly fat-burning Japanese underwear, people will try almost anything in the quest to tone up and lose extra pounds. The latest volley in the war against weight is a Kickstarter project called the Cold Shoulder. It's an ice vest that chills your upper body. The idea is to make your body work harder and burn calories.

There's a lot that's intriguing here. For starters, the vest is "designed by a NASA scientist." If we look closer at that, we see the creator, Wayne B. Hayes, is an associate professor in the School of Information and Computer Science at the University of California, Irvine. His CV notes that he's been a visiting scientist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory cryogenics group starting in 2013.

Inside the Cold Shoulder vest
The inside of the vest has pockets for holding ice packs. The Cold Shoulder

The Cold Shoulder vest is designed to go into a freezer. Then, you take it out and wear it over a shirt (to protect your skin). It supposedly works best when you're at a comfortable temperature: it won't be effective in a hot environment or while you're exercising. The concept is that cooling your body will force it to burn calories to stay warm. There have been some scientific studies in this direction, including a look at whether cold acclimation could be used to combat obesity.

The Cold Shoulder marketing materials claim it can help burn 500 calories per day when used as directed, though it doesn't promise miracles. The description clearly states, "Let's be blunt: there is no magic pill for weight loss, and The Cold Shoulder is no exception to that rule. The cold, hard truth is that the foundation of weight control is your diet." It does, however, suggest that the vest can accelerate the calorie-burning efforts of people who already exercise and eat well.

As with any weight-loss product, potential buyers should think carefully before dropping money, in this case $150 (about £100, AU$195), to pledge for a vest. The project page includes the sort of hazy before-and-after photos that tend to accompany late-night infomercials. It has a testimonial from a test wearer who "was able to eat 6,000 more calories over two weeks" without gaining weight. But weight loss is an incredibly individual pursuit, with your lifestyle, diet and genetics playing into it.

The Cold Shoulder started off with a modest $13,500 goal. The project only has a couple of days left to run, but it's blown up to over $235,000 in funding, from nearly 1,300 backers. If you're curious, but not ready to pledge, you could always rig up your own cold-pack clothing and test out the idea.

There will always be a dream of finding a magic way to lose weight with only minimal alterations to your everyday life. It will be interesting to see whether the Cold Shoulder sticks around or gets shrugged off as one more gimmick.