From the Editor's Desk,


                Battle of the Bulge, the Obesity Epidemic

           Americans are not only rich but fatty too, with obesity rates ranged from more than 17% in Colorado to more than 30% in Mississippi. Rate of adult obesity now exceed 25% in 19 states. The rate of childhood obesity more than tripled from 1980 to 2004 with approximately 25 million children are now either obese or overweight. Childhood obesity is showing increasing trend in developing countries with growing economy, thanks to fast food and beverage companies.

          Obesity is a symbol of unethical consumerism aggressively pursued by processed food industry aimed at growing company's profits with least concern to human health. The weak and poor become prey to obesity and whole society has to pay for it. It is very clear that not only calories but chemicals as well are the culprits causing obesity and affecting health. Metabolic Syndrome, a cluster of symptoms and signs that represent a step on the path towards diabetes. Raising of health care costs due to the chronic health problems such as Diabetes Mellitus, high blood pressure, heart disease etc. associated with obesity is going to cripple New Zealand's health system, the government fears. Global war on fast foods and changes in life style are inevitable for reducing healthcare costs and maintain better health.

        Eating too much and lack of exercise are not only the reasons for people gaining weight, genetics, metabolism and environmental factors do explain how large your appetite is and how efficiently your body uses the food you eat.

         Obesity has given rise to Nutrigenomics, a science of health and balanced diet and tells how food influences turn on / off genes associated with weight gain or loss. Management of obesity has become a business with diet plans, books on losing weight and being healthy, gastric bypass surgery, steroids and other anti-obesity drugs (Xenical blocking absorption of fat, Rimonabant blocking cannabinoid receptors with serious side-effects).

        Studies show there are genetic links to obesity, thus obesity is hereditary and is acquired. Review of genetic data by DNA Micro array analysis on more than 38,000 children and adults in UK & Europe showed certain variations in the FTO gene was associated with extra body fat, obesity and Type II diabetes. About 56 genes have been linked to obesity in rodents but 10 are accepted widely as having any influence in humans. Most explored are concerned with the hormones ghrelin, which stimulates appetite and leptin, which helps regulate fat storage in the body.

        The anti-obesity groups such as 'Fight the Obesity Epidemic (FOE)', 'Obesity Action Coalition (OAC)', 'Trust for America's Health', advocate a concerted effort to fight obesity by banning or strongly regulating advertisements and decreasing consumption of fast foods by children, a difficult proposition which is resisted by Food & Beverage Industry and Grocery Manufacturers Association.

         Prof. Banzhaf ( has been in the news about using legal action against the problem of obesity in some of the same ways he pioneered against the problem of smoking. So far, number of FAT lawsuits against growing epidemic of obesity have been successful against McDonald's French fries, Big Daddy's Diet ice-cream, Pirate's Booty diet food, Kraft's Oreo cookies, McDonald's & KFC's Transfat, Nation's bottler's sugary soft drinks in schools, paying millions of dollars to Plaintiffs by the Food & Beverage companies for misrepresenting facts on the food labels and misguiding consumers.

September 20, 2023

Prof. B. C. Harinath