The Morbid Obesity Epidemic


I recently came across an article in Newsweek entitled, “Fat Canaries in a Coal Mine: Obese animals hold lessons for us” by Sharon Begley (1). In this article, she references a study done by David Allison at University of Alabama in Birmingham entitled, “Canaries in the coal mine: a cross-species analysis of the plurality of obesity epidemics” (2). In his study, he looked at the weight histories of 24 animal populations since the 1940s – alley rats in Baltimore, lab macques in California and even control groups of mice in federal toxicology studies. In 23 of the 24 groups studied, there was an increase in the percentage of obese individuals in the population over time. This occurred even though, “they had not been bred for a larger size, switched chow supplier, or undergone any other change that would obviously explain the extra heft.”(1) The odds of this happening by chance were reported as being 8 million to 1. (1)

Ms Begley goes on to say, “Food marketing, more TV, and less Phys Ed can no more explain these fatter animals than they can the epidemic of obesity in kids under 6 months…Its time to expand the net of possible suspects in our expanding girths before it’s too late.” (1)

Why do you think there is an epidemic of obesity in the US as well as many other countries around the world?

  1. Sharon Begley. Fat Canaries in a Coal Mine: Obese animals hold lessons for us.
    Newsweek. December 20, 2010. P 22.
  2. Guyton, Wendy Newton, Matthew Jorgensen, Steven B. Heymsfield, Joseph Kemnitz, Lynn Yann C. Klimentidis, T. Mark Beasley, Hui-Yi Lin, Giulianna Murati, Gregory E. Glass, Marcus Fairbanks and David B. Allison. Canaries in the coal mine: a cross-species analysis of the plurality of obesity epidemics.
    Proc. R. Soc. B. Published online 24 November 2010. FULL TEXT



About Ed Chekan, MD, FACS

Minimally Invasive Surgeon An American Board of Surgery certified, Fellowship trained Minimally Invasive Surgeon that fills the gap between the clinical practice of surgery and the business of medical device innovation. Minimally Invasive Surgery Medical Devices Device Tissue Interaction Life Science Education Professional Education Opinions expressed here are my own.
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