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Animal Weight Gain Leads to Questions About Obesity

A study of more than 20,000 animals in 12 different populations has found that over the last 20 years, humans aren’t the only ones packing on the pounds. If it were just pets or city vermin also gaining in girth, this would be a boring story, but it is not. Animals living near humans, lab animals, and animals living in zoos also increased in weight. Animals in zoos and labs are given very specific diets, so what we eat cannot be the only answer. Are animals in zoos exercising less than they did 20 years ago?

There is some evidence that Adenovirus 36 might be linked to human obesity. Could AD36 also affect animals?

A bigger concern may be our shared drinking water and how humans are affecting the rivers, lakes, and oceans. Even after treatment by sewage and water companies, trace amounts of pharmaceuticals are released into rivers and streams and are being found in fish. What about other chemicals in our water supply? How might they affect us? At one point, my coffee grounds contributed to the caffeination of Indianapolis. How many others still pour their grounds down the dish disposal?

Global warming is unlikely to contribute to packing on the pounds. Doctors believe that our bodies work to increase fat as the weather turns cold to help us stay warm and survive throughout the winter. I know that I find myself less interested in eating anything when I am feeling hot.

Eating fresh, simple foods and regular exercise are advisable for almost everyone, whether there is an unknown factor contributing to your weight gain or not. It will be fascinating to see what other explanations can be found for weight gain throughout the animal kingdom and how that impacts how we treat obesity in humans.

December 6th, 2010

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