Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Policy Point Wednesday: What Are Our Pets Telling Us?

Like many other people interested in food and health, I am curious about the origin of the obesity epidemic.  Many food advocates suggest that heavily processed foods are the root cause of obesity; some say their palatability causes us to overeat.  While I remain concerned about eating habits and nutrition education, I am not convinced our food choices tell the whole story.

I’m also a dog owner…and I notice that family pets are also experiencing a huge surge in obesity  Dogs, in particular, have weights that tend to correlate with their owner’s weight.  Of course, both overweight dogs and overweight dog owners are not exercising the way they used to - but exercise alone does not produce weight loss.  If dogs are mirroring human behavior, and overeating without a major change in the types of food they eat, it might indicate that the obesity problem for both dogs and humans is not about food choices, but more about taking in more calories than they are expending.

The question remains: why?  I am not a scientist, but I have often wondered how much effect behavior-modifying advertising campaigns have on our dietary health; advertising of both human and pet food has certainly increased in the last 30 years.  This can't be a coincidence.

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