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Do Eyeshades Protect Against Obesity and Cancer?

In Newsweek last December, science writer Sharon Begley pulled together research showing that lab animals and pets are getting fatter, just like people: “In Macaques, living in research colonies, average weight gain rose about 10 percent per decade. Chimps in the lab had a 14-fold increase in obesity, with weight increasing 34 percent per decade. Pet cats: a 38 percent increase in obesity, with weight up 10 percent per decade. Pet dogs: a weight gain of just 3 percent. Those alley rats: a 21 percent increase in obesity. Government lab mice: weight gain of 12 percent per decade.”Such data from animals suggest that the human obesity crisis is not only the result of our consuming larger portions of food and our sedentary lifestyles. The problem may be more complex.Begley notes new research showing that bacteria in our gut affect how many calories we extract from food. So a shift in bugs could be making us fatter. So could our lack of sleep, which stimulates appetite hormones, or better heating and air conditioning, which means we burn fewer calories. Or endocrine disruptors like BPA in plastics. Writes Beg …

Stephen Kiesling is a former Olympic rower, cocreator of the Nike Cross Training System, and editor at large of Spirituality & Health. A 35th anniversary edition of The Shell Game: Reflections on Rowing and the Pursuit of Excellence has just been published.

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