Wednesday, June 28, 2006

10 Causes of Obesity Other Than Over-Eating, Inactivity
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
By Daniel J. DeNoon


Just about everywhere you look, doctors are blaming America's obesity epidemic on two things: too much food -- especially widely marketed fast food and junk food -- and too little exercise, with too much time in front of the TV.

But we're paying too much attention to the "big two," argue David B. Allison, PhD, director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham clinical nutrition research center, and his colleagues.

To stimulate debate, Allison and colleagues suggest 10 other possible causes of obesity. Their article appears in this week's online edition of the International Journal of Obesity.

10 Causes of Obesity
The Alabama group puts forth these 10 "additional explanations" for obesity:

1. Sleep debt. Getting too little sleep can increase body weight. Today's Americans get less shut-eye than ever.

2. Pollution. Hormones control body weight. And many of today’s pollutants affect our hormones.

3. Air conditioning. You have to burn calories if your environment is too hot or too cold for comfort. But more people than ever live and work in temperature-controlled homes and offices.

4. Decreased smoking. Smoking reduces weight. Americans smoke much less than they used to.

5. Medicine. Many different drugs -- including contraceptives, steroid hormones, diabetes drugs, some antidepressants, and blood pressure drugs -- can cause weight gain. Use of these drugs is on the upswing.

6. Population age, ethnicity. Middle-aged people and Hispanic-Americans tend to be more obese than young European-Americans. Americans are getting older and more Hispanic.

7. Older moms. There's some evidence that the older a woman is when she gives birth, the higher her child's risk of obesity. American women are giving birth at older and older ages.

8. Ancestors' environment. Some influences may go back two generations. Environmental changes that made a grandparent obese may "through a fetally driven positive feedback loop" visit obesity on the grandchildren.

9. Obesity linked to fertility. There's some evidence obese people are more fertile than lean ones. If obesity has a genetic component, the percentage of obese people in the population should increase.

10. Unions of obese spouses. Obese women tend to marry obese men. If there are fewer thin people around -- and if obesity has a genetic component -- there will be still more obese people in the next generation.

And the researchers’ list of 10 doesn't exhaust the possibilities. There may be even more explanations. Four examples of this include: a fat-inducing virus; increases in childhood depression; less consumption of dairy products; and hormones used in agriculture.

I, being in the overweight catergory, find this all very interesting, but I still think a majority of it is still based on plain convenience foods and lack of activity. Number 8 is scary to think about since I am 38 and just had a baby.