A new paper in The International Journal of Obesity explores several of the ignored factors that contribute to the obesity epidemic. Sure, corn syrup and lethargy are bad, but other suspects include:
1) The decrease in smoking. Apparently, the Virginia Slims advertisements are accurate. Smoking really does make you skinnier by suppressing your appetite.
2) The rise of Prozac. Most anti-depressants have weight gain has a possible side-effect, and when 33 million doses of Prozac are being dispensed every year, those side-effects are bound to have an effect on our collective waistline.
3) Heating and air-conditioning: When we live in an environment that is either excessively hot or cold, our metabolism has to work extra hard to maintain normal body temperature. Sweating and shivering burns calories.
As the researchers note, their evidence is far from conclusive. But the paper does a wonderful job of reminding us that obesity is a disease with many different causes. Before the conventional wisdom gets too cemented, it’s worth remembering that being fat isn’y only a by-product of Big Macs.
Can you come up with any other possible causes for the obesity epidemic?
Update: Slate’s Sydney Spiesel has a good take on the new study as well.