BREITBART.COM - Chewing the fat: New theories on world's obesity pandemic
Chewing the fat: New theories on world's obesity pandemic
Jul 01 11:33 PM US/Eastern
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Fatty hamburgers, sugar-laden sodas and a couch-potato lifestyle: these are the familiar villains in the crisis of obesity sweeping developed countries.
But what if they had been convicted without fair trial?
What if the global fat explosion had other causes?
What, for instance, if air conditioning or lack of sleep helped make you fat? Or what if obesity were caused by a microbe -- what if, bang, you caught an unlucky sneeze and this made you chub out?
These ideas challenge the mainstream view that the bulging waistlines of an advancing society can be overwhelmingly pinned to diet and lifestyle.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) last September warned that a billion people were overweight and obese, and the toll could rise to 1.5 billion by 2015, driven by low- and middle-income countries.
The WHO accepted there were "a number of factors" for this increase, but especially blamed "a global shift in diet towards increased energy, fat, salt and sugar intake, and a trend towards decreased physical activity due to the sedentary nature of modern work and transportation, and increasing urbanisation."
Some worry that this view is dangerously monolithic.
Writing on Tuesday in the International Journal of Obesity, a team of US public-health experts caution against focussing obsessively on the "Big Two" -- a slower lifestyle and modern food marketing.
"This has created a hegemony whereby the importance of the Big Two is accepted as established and other putative factors are not seriously explored," they say. "The result may be well-intentioned but ill-founded proposals for reducing obesity rates."
They contend the evidence against junk food, supersize-me portions and high-calorie corn syrup is "equivocal and largely circumstantial" and offer some intriguing ideas of their own for other drivers of the obesity tsunami.
-- Industrial chemicals called endocrine disruptors that disturb metabolism, encouraging the formation of fat.
-- Giving up smoking: people who give up cigarettes very often gain weight.
-- Air conditioning, which establishes a comfortable temperature zone. In temperatures above this zone, people eat less. The rise in number of air-conditioned homes in the United States virtually mirrors the increase in the US obesity rate.
-- Fat people marry other fat people. These individuals may be genetically vulnerable to obesity, a trait that could handed on to their children.
Another hypothesis is that lack of sleep jolts the metabolic system into demanding doses of instant energy.