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Some do. However, some eat like sparrows.

The theory about overeating being the

sole cause of obesity doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.
What it’s good for is as a weapon for bigots who want to condemn those who can’t
fight back. Fat people have always been the object of ridicule.
It’s time to change that kind of thinking.
Thirty years ago I maintained that overweight people have digestive systems that
are too efficient. Their systems take much more nutrition out of the food they eat
than the average digestive system does. Thin people, by my theory, had inefficient
digestive systems.
Science knows a great deal more today than it did 30 years ago about obesity. And
it should. In the USA, for example (2005 statistics), only four states out of 50
have obesity rates below 20 percent, and 17 had obesity rates above 25 percent.
The reason my now-outdated theory received little credit was because prevailing
thinking at the time said that our digestive systems become more efficient only
when food sources are scarce. For our prehistoric ancestors, when food was not
around in quantity, their digestive systems became more efficient to remove more
nutrition from the little food available. When food was plentiful, their digestive
systems became less efficient because their bodies needed less nutrition for the
food that was consumed.
Others who favoured the “eat plenty when food is bountiful” theory said that human
digestive systems helped our ancestors pack on the pounds when there was lots of
food, then slowed to normal when it was scarce and gut input was low.
What no one talked about in those days was what makes our digestive systems work
in the first place. Now we know that it’s bacteria that helps us to digest our
food. Yes, like the symbionts of Star Trek fame, we have an abundance of life
forms that are not “us” but take from us and give to us what we need in a
symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship.
Some scientists now estimate that we have more independent life forms (bacteria,
usually) within us than we have cells of our own in our bodies.
Recent research at Washington University suggests that thin people have a
predominance of Bacteroidetes and fatter people have more Firmicutes, two species
of bacteria. Whichever kind of bacteria predominates in your gut determines
whether you are thin or fat.
More factors than that impact weight, but this is a major one, according to
Jeffrey Gordon, senior author of tow papers published in Nature and director of
the Center for Genome Sciences at Washington University.

Read more about this research at

Physiologist Leah Whigham of the University of Wisconsin-Madison has another idea.

She and her team studied chickens and found that a virus, not a bacteria, caused
some chickens to become overweight. They found that an adenovirus—Ad-37—caused the
guts of the affected chickens to be three times as fat as those in the control
group and the rest of the body twice as fat over a period of 3.5 weeks.
"Ad-37 is the third human adenovirus to increase adiposity (having the ability to
hold fat) in animals, but not all adenoviruses produce obesity," Whigham and her
colleagues wrote in the January 2006 issue of the American Journal of Physiology.

Read more about their research on the Scientific American web site at

We have all seen families where everyone, parents and children, are all
overweight. We might have attributed it to over-zealous meal-makers who simply
provided too many calories or saturated fat in their meals.
Now we know that either bacteria or viruses might be the cause and these could
easily be shared among family members.
More research is needed. The researchers agree that it’s too early for us to be
finding a bandwagon to jump on to decrease obesity. Messing around with body
systems is risky. Even losing weight quickly has been shown to be hard on the

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems,' a book
about real and inexpensive solutions to community problems most people think are
inevitable evils of modern society. They aren't. We just have to look in the right
Learn more at