Monday, August 14, 2006

Infectious obesity: fattening the calf

The one thing missing from modern descriptions of obesity is "free will". That's good. Free will is an important deception, but it has little explanatory power.

Lately we've moved beyond the obvious environmental influences (600 calorie vending machine snacks that are claimed to hold "4 servings", neighborhoods without sidewalks, mega-schools) and genetics to focus on more obscure environmental influences, such as sleep practices and infection ...
Fat Factors - New York Times

... Gordon [jf: no relation] says he is still far from understanding the relationship between gut microflora and weight gain. “I wish you were writing this article a year from now, even two years from now,” he told me. “We’re just beginning to explore this wilderness, finding out who’s there, how does that population change, which are the key players.” He says it will be a while before anyone figures out what the gut microbes do, how they interact with one another and how, or even whether, they play a role in obesity. And it will be even longer before anyone learns how to change the microflora in a deliberate way.
A few months ago I posted that several human adenvorisuses are believed to induce adiposity in some animals. Now bacteria, our worldly overlords, are in the spotlight. It's a tangled web indeed.

What's in it for the bacteria? Well, they do eat us when we die. The fatter the host, the finer the feeding ...

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