Mexico has surpassed the USA in the number of obese and over weight residents according to the 2013 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
Nobody born prior to 1950 can possibly name a single person who was over 180 pounds by the age of eight. Several individuals born in Mexico and USA after 2000 can name a classmate who was over 180 pounds by the age of eight. What is the cause of this obesity epidemic in fifty years? Childhood obesity has trippled in the last ten years and one in three Mexican teenagers can be classified as obese, disproportionately affecting the poor and the young reported the Huffington Post. It’s a very serious epidemic, with the ones who are malnourished becoming programmed for obesity. A steady rise in diabetes, currently 400,000 a year with almost a quarter leading to death from this disease is correlated to a rise in obesity (see Race, ethnicity and kidney disease).
Mexico has a 32.8 percent adult obesity rate says the UN – FAO report 2013. Some of the causal facts listed in this report are a changing food system and a lack of nutritional education reported PR Web. More processed, calorie-rich food, and sweetened beverages are the main suspects. The main author of the UN-FAO report blaimed, in addition, the sedentary lifestyle of urbanization.
Are Lifestyle changes alone to blaim?
Undoubtedly, changing lifestyles is the chief factor in the rising obesity rates. While this is laudable it would be unwise to blaim lifestyle factors alone, in isolation from biological factors. One cannot ignore the observation that people from certain countries tend to get obese faster. Why did the residents of Mexico show the highest rise in obesity when several nations also have lower economic status and similar lifestyle changes as Mexico? Is there a genetic basis for Mexico winning the dubious competition amongst nations in obesity? This is the first decade when the tools for understanding the biological basis of the disease of obesity may be available, along with demographic numbers associated with rate of obesity. Experts on the biological science of obesity published a research opinion, ‘Genetics of Obesity‘, stating that
‘evidence to date suggests that a major impact of genes on human obesity is just as likely (or more likely) to directly impact on hunger, satiety and food intake rather than metabolic rate or nutrient partitioning. At the risk of oversimplication, it seems that from an aetiological/genetic standpoint, human obesity appears less a metabolic than a neuro-behavioural disease’.
Which means, these obesity scientists believe that you can control obesity with mind power, that requires a little more will than in will power alone, since genes for hunger dominate the minds of a selected percentage of humanity. Which further means, that a certain section of humankind, will simply have to exert a far stronger will (mind power) to avoid getting obese through modern lifestyle choices. They will have to walk more, eat healthier and drink water far more often than those that lack the ‘obesity’ gene. Which is the thinnest country in the world, on par with Mexico economically and in an urbanization lifestyle? Why should we be interested? The citizens of that country, in their genetics of obesity, hold the secrets to how not to get obese. An interdisciplinary team of scientists will be needed to unravel the mystery of the genetics of obesity that responds to urbanization lifestyle choices versus traditional, ancestral way of life. A clear sign is when you watch a thin immigrant arrive to the USA and become obese, while his relatives in the home country remain thin.
Genetics of Obesity
In fact, one genetic cause for obesity has already been identified in the MC4R protein. A single change in the gene coding for this protein is the most common cause of human obesity in children carrying two copies of this gene. None of the children carrying only a single copy of this gene with a change were obese. There has to be two changed copies for obesity in children carrying this gene. Interestingly, all the obese children also had a correlated increase in bone mineral density, which brings up a host of other discussions of interest. This obesity gene is inherited and can be passed on to their children.
The report by New Scientist should make the obese person feel better, that they are eating more because their genes control their sense of hunger. The obesity gene keeps you fat by keeping you hungry. In the same way as a person can inherit the color of the eyes, and the height of their parents, in the same way an obese person may have inherited the FTO gene which makes them 70 percent more likely to be obese, when they inherit two copies of a changed form of the FTO gene.
Many genes remain to be identified as causal for obesity. In addition, the role of what regulates the function of the MC4R and FTO and other obesity genes is yet to be identified. It is a known fact that urbanization is regulating the obesity genes and making some populations far more obese than their ancestors. The question is who should regulate the obese people? Should the individual regulate themselves or should the role of society be more active? Is it ethical to watch a little girl of three years old balloon to 300 pounds and not step in with a genetic – urbanization causal relationship?
Are we less healthy than our parents and grandparents – both mentally and physically? Read more by clicking here.
Race, Ethnicity and Kidney Disease
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