Leon J. Podles :: DIALOGUE

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Doomed to Fatness

November 12th, 2013 · 7 Comments

As everyone has noticed, the average weight of human beings is creeping up and up and up, as airline seats become smaller and smaller. America is not even in the lead. Mexico and Central Europe are putting in the avoir-du-pois faster than we are. Even worse – obesity may be contagious!

What gives?

Even more alarming, domestic and wild animals and lab rats are getting fatter. Simple gluttony and indulgence in sweets and fats may explain human gains, but what about animals, including those who do not share food with humans?

No one knows. Changes in gut bacteria are the prime suspect. These could be cause by a number of things. One possibility is the overuse of antibiotics, which as everyone who had had to take them knows, have a highly deleterious effect on our intestinal flora. Perhaps the antibiotics have gotten into the war supply, as giardia did from campers pooping in the woods.

Another possibility is that children raised on junk food have changes in the gut bacteria and metabolism that make them crave more junk food. The changed bacteria can be transferred within families and may also get into the ecosystem where they affect pets and wild animals and even lab animals (although the last are hard to explain).

If the gut bacteria of thin people differ from that of fat people, one treatment for obesity might be- yuk – stool transplants. Or a change in diet to more healthy foods might also lead to a change in gut bacteria – but as anyone who has tried to change his diet knows, it is not easy. Even educated people, even medical professionals who know what overweight is doing to their hearts, find it hard to change.

Adults should know better, but I truly saddened by obese children. They are at great risk for diabetes, and they miss out on the only time of life when almost everyone is energetic and resilient. Even if – and this is highly unlikely – they change their habits when they become adults, they still have missed out on childhood’s activities. Even if they can do it, most forty year olds don’t enjoy skipping rope or climbing trees.

Tags: Health

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Reprehensible // Nov 13, 2013 at 1:18 am

    Sadly obesity and type 2 diabetes are both linked as side effects of certain drugs that are widely in use.
    Certain ssri antidepressants are known to add approx 30 pounds to many patients to whom they have been prescribed. These same chemicals are in our water supplies as are hormones from birth control pills. Our water treatment facilities were never designed to filter them out.
    The TPP Treaty now being negotiated
    in secret ,even from our Congressional reps , shields us from being informed as to just what corporations are selling us as food.
    I would caution playing the blame game by pointing an incriminating finger at the obese or even the parents of obese children. The rise in obesity seems to be running in tandem not only with lifestyle but with increased chemicals and the frankenfood we have been consuming over the past few decades.

    Regarding the “slippery slope” in the previous post , some may wish to read this enlightening open Letter to Pope Francis .

  • 2 tioedong // Nov 13, 2013 at 1:21 am

    Some chemicals are turning on the genes for “metabolic syndrome”.

    Maybe those that are in plastics, or the estrogen in the ground water due to hormones (BCpills, hormones given to animals, phytoestrogens).

    Here in Asia, you are starting to see the city kids chubby, but not yet our farmer’s kids. If it was BC pills alone, you will quickly see a change now that Obama has browbeaten our president into passing an RH bill to fund the pill (but not midwives) for women.

    An interesting study is in American Indians. The Pima Indians are the fattest and have a high rate of diabetes in Arizona, but the same tribe in Mexico is thin and does not, maybe because they eat “Traditional foods”…

    The Indians blame the free gov’t “commodities” for their high diabetes/obesity rate.

    I “know” why I am fat: Lack of exercize, and taking hormones for “female problems and infertility.

  • 3 Vickie // Nov 13, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Interesting, that even lab animals are getting fatter. Do you happen to have reference? Usually they are fed specifically formulated diets unlike people (and their pets) who have access do varying types of food>

    If people and lab animal ( and likely household pets) are all becoming obese, maybe it is something in either the grains, soybeans or fats that are used to formulate the diets.

  • 4 Mary Ann // Nov 13, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    The pill.

  • 5 Vickie // Nov 14, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    Here is a link to a 2010 paper about the trans-species increase in obesity.


    Thanks Leon for bringing this to our attention. I also have an article for my next journal meeting.

  • 6 admin // Nov 14, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    Vickie, the article you referenced mentions it: surprisingly, we find that over the past several decades, average mid-life body weights have risen among primates and rodents living in research colonies, as well as among feral rodents and domestic dogs and cats. The consistency of these findings among animals living in varying environments, suggests the intriguing possibility that the aetiology of increasing body weight may involve several as-of-yet unidentified and/or poorly understood factors (e.g. viral pathogens, epigenetic factors).

  • 7 caroline // Nov 14, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    Maybe nature is getting us genetically ready to survive a coming ice age.

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