Body temperature: what is the new normal?


  • Heather Mason
  • Univadis Medical News
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A recent analysis of temperature trends suggests that the average human body temperature has dropped since the 19th Century due to physiological changes.

In 1851, a survey of 25,000 people established that 37°C is the standard human body temperature. A recent study of nearly 250,000 temperature measurements taken from 35,000 people found that 36.6°C is the average oral temperature.

To test this hypothesis, data sets were analysed from three different populations. Overall, 677,423 temperature measurements were accessed to form a model of change over time.

Key findings;

  • Today’s male body temperature is 0.59°C lower than that of men born in the early 19th Century.
  • Female body temperature has decreased by 0.32°C in the same period.
  • Overall analysis found a 0.03°C decrease in body temperature every decade.

Gender, time of day and age can affect body temperature, therefore updating temperature standards has not been advised.

However, the authors suggest that our lifestyles, home and external environment have changed our physiology and metabolic rate over time, which has affected our average body temperature.