Does the obesity epidemic equal a change in politics?
In the spirit of the obsession on politics our country is consumed with right now, I thought I would post this blog posting from the New York Times. Now, it is important to remember that the blog itself is called "On The Wild Side."
The author, Olivia Judson, wonders if the high rates of obesity in this country can affect our political leanings. She cites a study in Science that found that people who support more conservative platforms such as increased military spending or warrantless wiretapping startle easier, whereas people who support more progressive causes, such as immigration or gun control have milder responses.
She then describes interesting ways that animals differ behaviorally from others of their own kind based on hormones they were subjected to during development. For example, female sparrows who are exposed to greater levels of testosterone are less timid than other females.
She then explains that human fetuses are also exposed to hormones during development. Obese women may be sharing different hormonal levels with their fetuses then normal weight women during pregnancy because fat tissues release hormones, including an estrogen-like compound. Judson wonders if the obesity in the mother will affect her offspring's personality, which will in turn affect their political leanings. With the high rates of obesity, will enough people be influenced by their overweight mother's hormones to affect the policy of this country?
I think this is a huge, gigantic, enormous stretch. It's interesting to ponder for a second, but to do the math: A (people's political leanings) times B (fetal hormone exposure) equals C (influencing the political landscape) does not hold up very well.
I do think this is a good example of being critical about the things you read (most of the people who commented were very critical!). Also, I think it is a good example of reaching too far to make a story out of nothing to appeal to current events or thinking.