We all know — because we are being constantly reminded — that we are, collectively, getting fat. Americans are at the forefront of the trend, but it is a transnational one. Apparently, it is also transspecies: pets, wild animals, and laboratory animals are also gaining weight. Here’s some country-level data from the New York Times:
In an excellent review of the existing literature, David Berreby at Aeon skewers the idea that a simple, victim-blaming “calories in, calories out” model can explain this extraordinary transnational, transspecies rise in overweight and obese individuals. I won’t summarize his argument here, except to simply list the casual contenders for which there is good evidence:
- Industrial chemicals
- Heavy metals
- Electric lights
- Air conditioning
- Famine in previous generations
If you ever want to have an opinion on fat again, read Berreby now.Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.