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Hormones in the water supply?

The obesity epidemic is reaching animals, too. Cats and dogs. Sewer rats. And even control mice used in experiments. As the study says (click through the link above for the PDF):

But these factors cannot account for the findings in the laboratory animals that are on highly controlled diets, which have varied minimally over the last several decades. These animals are typically fed ad libitum, so if weight increases are attributable to increases in food consumption (which is possible), it is difficult to understand why animals in controlled environ-ments on diets of constant composition are consuming more food today than in past decades.

The paper goes on:

One set of putative contributors to the human obesity epidemic is the collection of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (endocrine-disruptors), widely present in the environment. Another conceivable explanation is obesity of infectious origin. Infection with adenovirus-36 (AD36) leads to obesity in multiple experimental models and antibodies to AD36 are correlated with obesity in humans. These observations suggest that AD36 and conceivably other infectious agents could be contributing to obesity within populations. Other explanations may include epigenetic-mediated programming of growth and energy-allocation patterns owing to any number of environmental cues such as stressors, resource availability, release from predation or climate change.

Increased body weights among laboratory animals have implications for the outcomes and design of the experiments that use these animals. Among several laboratory animals, it is known that calorically restricted individuals live longer and obese animals have shorter lifespans. This has had implications for toxicology studies in which some researchers have shifted to controlling for reduced lifespan and increased body weight.

As the post i linked to says, caveats apply, but it's certainly interesting and maybe a little scary.

By fnord12 | August 9, 2013, 6:38 PM | Science