Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Not just one too many cream pies

David Allison at the University of Alabama at Birmingham has been poking into studies of wild animal populations and found that a large number of different kinds of animals in the wild have a higher percentage of obesity than decades ago. That implies the human rise in obesity is not just that we eat more and exercise less than we used to. Focusing only on that means we might not be looking for important causes. A guess at those causes? Insufficient sleep, certain kinds of viruses (which cause obesity in lab animals), central heating and air conditioning (our bodies don't have to work so hard to keep warm or cool), and toxic chemicals that have gotten into the environment. Though when I think about it central heat and lack of sleep won't explain animal obesity. That leaves… Whether any of these is the actual cause, or whether it is something else entirely, will need more study.

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