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Why We're Fat: Still a Mystery

After eating that big turkey dinner, you're probably feeling fat, and most of us are fat and getting fatter--why is this? Most people would say it's because we eat too much and exercise too little. But that answer, while valid, may be a little too simple--there may be many other causes for obesity.

One of these is light: Studies have shown that subtle changes in the amount of time spent in light or dark environments changes eating habits. Increased light pollution in our industrial society may play a role in weight gain. Viruses--and the antibiotics used to fight them--are another possible cause. Genetic modifications brought about by any number of environmental cues such as stress and even climate change may also lead to weight gain.

Fat has been blamed on lots of different things, but pollution? It's possible that some of the pollutants and pesticides that pregnant women are exposed to here may be fueling the US childhood obesity epidemic. Babies whose mothers had relatively high levels of the chemical DDE in their blood are more likely to both grow rapidly during their first 6 months and to have a high body mass index (BMI) by 14 months. DDE is a by-product of the pesticide DDT, which is no longer used in the US, but is still sprayed abroad. Pesticides that ARE still being used here could be making our kids overweight. Obesity is a problem that may have many causes and will need many solutions. Researcher Yann Klimentidis says, "When looking for ways to combat obesity in humans, we need to be more aware of all the possible alternative causes."

Here's something that's a continuing mystery to us: How so many of our readers and listeners who profess to love this site so much can't be bothered to support it. The sad truth is that if we get much leaner, we just won't be here tomorrow (and we suspect you'll miss us very much) so please, put your money where your mouth is and subscribe today. You can keep us going for less than a latte a WEEK: Less than $12 gets you a 3-month subscription. So what are you waiting for? And we have LOTS of special treats coming up for our subscribers. And speaking of treats, don't forget that today is "Digital Monday" until midnight!

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The biggest causes for obesity are -- lack of movement, lack of exercise, and too many complex carbs. Look, our ancestors ate well, and moved well. We as a society aren't getting enough of both. And we get the food pyramid shoved down our throats (pun intended). Fewer and fewer are cooking from scratch. Regular exercise aside -- obesity really starts in the kitchen -- what we eat. Or where we eat -- fast food. It's not all of the triple burger with bacon that getting us fat - it's what surrounds the protein -- all that bread. Our predecessors on this planet ate meat and vegetables for the most part. Sugar and refined foods did not exist. Our bodies have not kept pace with the changes in food production.

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