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Obesity - an infectious disease?

Discussion in 'General Issues and Discussion Forum' started by NewsBot, Jan 30, 2006.

  1. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.


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    Yahoo! Health are reporting:
    Obesity Might Be Catching
    Read rest of story
  2. wdd

    wdd Well-Known Member

    There is no doubt that obesity is an infectious disease and the sooner it is recognized as such the better.

    Although the agent transmitting the infection is not a micro-organism it has some of the same characteristics;

    it is passed from person to person both by direct and indirect contact;
    susceptiblity to infection varies from person to person;
    it is possible that with an increasing load of infection, eventually, the infection rate will approach 100% of the population.

    The infecting agent has flourished as a result of complex environmental changes over a considerable period of time and controlling or eliminating the infection can only be accomplished if all of the myriad of etiological factors are identified put in a hierarchy with respect to their level of contribution to the disease process and then eliminated or modified.

    A major difficulty facing attempts to eliminate or even usefully modifiy the etiological factors is that the infecting agent has formed a symbiotic relationship with mechanisms central to the running and continued success of society, ie putting fat at risk puts the structure of the society at risk.

    Those who are becoming fatter earlier in this growing pandemic are those with the least resistance to the infection an infection which is totally manmade.

    Obesity is a direct measure of free market success.

    Why not start by making a list of the causes of obesity other than the blindingly obvious one that energy input greater than energy output equals fat accumulation.

    Laziness; glutony; parental failure; lack of will power seem to be the ones that come up most commonly within PodF.

    Are these the most important factors or are there others significantly more important?

  3. wdd

    wdd Well-Known Member

    I'll start with my own top four with the most fatogenic at the top.

    The motor car.
    Organisation of the home, work place and shopping mall on a principle of energy saving where the lower the human energy expenditure the better.

    For me although there are many other factors these four are streets ahead in terms of fatness potential, with the car streets ahead of the other two and all against a background of human psychological make up.

  4. DAVOhorn

    DAVOhorn Well-Known Member

    Dear All,

    As an observation there was no obesity inside either the German or Japanese Prisoner of War Camps.

    The only obesity seemed to be the German and other High Command Officers etc etc.

    The general populations in all countries had subsistence diets and thus were not obese either.

    Looking around my local friendly supermarket today I estimate that over half the under 5 are obese. The teens there about half are obese , more so the girls than the boys. The we get to the parents and nearly ALL the MUMS were obese some Grossly. Many of the men too but not as many as the women.

    So perhaps we should have a good old fashioned European War and have subsistence levels of food again. If there is no food to eat then obesity would be dealt a major blow.

    Another worrying observation is how many fat adults have fat kids and fat DOGS too.

    Just an observation of what now seems to be the norm.:bash:

    But obesity being an infectious disease HHHMMMMMMM.:deadhorse:

    Eat Less and move more.:drinks

  5. wdd

    wdd Well-Known Member

    Like it David.

    So the answer to obesity is war and/or famine.

    Unfortunately I think you could be right.

  6. wdd

    wdd Well-Known Member

    The upside of a fat nation is that crime figures for violent crime are falling nationwide and will continue to fall.

    There is an inverse relationship between the bodyweight/height ratio and violent crime. As the bodyweight/height ratio approaches twice the average, the risk of violent crime approaches zero.

    Soon it will be safe for men and women to walk the street at any hour of day or night. Unfortunately nobody will be physically able to do so.

    Still, it'll be worth it for the peace of mind.

  7. wdd

    wdd Well-Known Member

    Two examples of the infectious nature of obesity.

    Our local shopping centre is on two levels. The lower and upper levels are connected by stairs an escalator and a lift. They are side by side.

    I always use the stairs. I think of it as free exercise. But, so far, I have had the stairs to myself.

    As I mount the stairs I can see the busy escalator next to me and the queue for the lift. Each time that I use the stair I become more aware of feeling slightly uneasy because I am the only person on the stair, ie I am standing out from the crowd. Each time that I approach the stair I have to steel myself a little more to, in some way, run the guantlet. On a number of occasions I have nearly cracked and joined the herd on the escalator.

    In terms of fatness how do we (humans) establish our norms?
    At the human level it is from those who share our environment. If all of those around us are slim we will tend to be slim. If all those around us are obese we will tend to obesity. As the percentage of fat people increases it puts an upward pressure on the level of obesity of all those sharing their environment.

    These examples demonstrate two human characteristics that are potentially fatogenic.

    Firstly we search solutions involving the least amount of energy expenditure.

    Secondly we have a herd instinct and a strong need to conform. Our apparent desire to be different, eg fashion more often than not is just a sub-group conformity.

  8. wdd

    wdd Well-Known Member

    It's as 'easy' as that and yet people don't. They tend to eat more and move less because that's how they have evolved and it's the direction they are being pulled in.

    Don't waste energy moving if you don't have to and take advantage of the feast because there could be a famine around the corner.

    From the beginning of animal life on earth up to the middle of the last century that was a good survival strategy and is undoubtedly one that is built in to humanbeings.

    To do anything other than binge when you can takes 'willpower'.

    If 'willpower' exists it is certainly not an even playing field. Some people generally have more than others; some have more for somethings than for others; it varies from time to time and importantly it can be manipulated.

    One of the main resons for the existance of Advertising, Marketing and Sales is to minimise 'potential customer, ie the human population' resistance to buying, that is, counteracting the benefits of 'willpower' ultimately increases profit.

    Putting it another way the succes of world wide Advertising, Marketing and Sales can be measured on your bathroom scales. If you show signs of 'willpower' they will/must find a way to subvert it.

    Can 'trying a little harder' have any useful long term positive effect on obesity? Yes, absolutely. It can only increase it.

  9. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

  10. wdd

    wdd Well-Known Member

    I think that David's observation puts the above 'research' into perspective.

    Is it possible that gut flora has some effect on obesity? Yes.

    How great an effect? Shrinkingly small. Certainly well behind 'glands' which is, well ahead of viral infection, which for all but a favoured few is clutching at straws.

    But they are all good divertissements and muddy the waters nicely.

    Personally I don't believe that there is a man made obesity epidemic. If people are getting fatter I am sure that it's a cyclic thing. You know every few hundred years the world's poulation gets fatter and then it gets thinner.

    I'm sure it's caused by sun spots.


    PS Is it just because this is a medical forum that all the obesity research puts obesity into the domain of medicine or has medicine devoured obesity in a process of rampant medicalisation of everything?
  11. Ros Kidd

    Ros Kidd Active Member

    Its all very worrying. I was watching one of my grandchildren raid the cupboard for a snack just before Lunch. Needless to say I stepped in and made him wait for the meal to be served but he did not seem to understand its OK to be hungry for a short time. Has the media managed to convince us that the slightest whinge from our tummies needs to be catered for? (no pun intended).
    Mean Granny!
  12. wdd

    wdd Well-Known Member

    Maybe too much of a focus on simple obesity?

    Possibly we should be focusing more on the relationship between energy output/input and the factors influencing it? That potentially broadens the discussion but it unfortunately massively increases the number of 'patients' (if we adopt the medical model).

    Some breakdown in the 'natural' relationship between input/output is manifested by the obese, bulimics, anorexics and those whose exercise levels are determined by nothing more than a desire for a certain body type, eg slim, muscled.

    Focusing on obesity slims the problem to digestible proportions.

  13. Patrickg

    Patrickg Member

    Other than what has been already said, I believe a persons psychological health has a large impact on their weight and vice versa. The increased stress in life, low self esteem, low education etc all impact on activity level and induce lethargy. Maybe a study into depression/mental health and diabetes (if it isnt being done already) should be looked into?
  14. wdd

    wdd Well-Known Member

    Hi Patrickg,

    I am sure that you are right about there being a psychological component.

    I can see that the nature of the stress of modern day living is different from the stress of living previously but I wouuldn't think that the general level of stress comes anywhere near that of fifty and more years ago. I also feel that levels of self esteem and education were significantly lower in the past.

    So for me, unless their is a new and unique fatogenic contemporary stress, I am not strongly drawn to the psychological argument.

    Best wishes,

  15. wdd

    wdd Well-Known Member

    The obesity pandemic is almost exclusively the result of social organisation and can only be cured by changes in social organisation.

    These changes can only be brought about if there is a political will, ie not individual will but political will. Until there is political will the problem can only get worse.

    While politicians continue to ignore their responsibility medicine is more than willing to fill the gap and of course increase its spectrum of responsibility and power base. The danger is that medicine becomes the new big business and/or the new politics.

    Is there anywhere a useful political discussion of the problem that doesn't leave it to business or medicine to solve it?
  16. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.


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