The Substance That May Be Making Us Larger
It sounds like something out of a horror movie. A lab genius creates a substance that can help humans fight off nasty bugs. The product seems even more amazing when someone figures out that it can also be used to beef up our livestock and produce larger animals more quickly.
Because of this miracle of science we’re healthier and we have access to more protein without added cost.
It’s quite possible that this remarkable discovery has had a disturbing side effect of making humans larger and fatter, too!
I’m referring to antibiotics – those being fed to cows, pigs and other meat-producing critters and those that are given to humans to fight off dangerous bacteria.
Antibiotics fatten up livestock, so it make sense that they could be fattening us up, too!
The Centers for Disease Control says over-prescribing antibiotics can put patients at risk. Yet this occurs far too often. A study finds that more than half of all hospital patients receive antibiotics – and doctors at some hospitals prescribe three times as many antibiotics as those in other hospitals.
Sixty years ago, Alexander Fleming, the Scottish biologist who discovered penicillin, began to question the use of antibiotics to fatten animals.
Despite Fleming’s concerns, there was a test that involved antibiotics and humans – mentally defective kids, to be exact. The average yearly gain in weight for the supplemented kids: 6.5 pounds. The kids in the control group, meanwhile, averaged slightly less than 2 pounds of weight gain over the same year.
American children are prescribed antibiotics just about every year, mainly for ear and chest infections. It may be possible our metabolism is adversely affected.
According to researcher Ilseung Cho, “Microbes in our gut are able to digest certain carbohydrates that we’re not able to.” Antibiotics seem to increase those bugs’ ability to break down carbs—and ultimately convert them to body fat. As a result, antibiotic-fed mice “actually extracted more energy from the same diet” as control mice, he says.
That’s great if you’re trying to fatten a giant barn full of hogs. But what about that two-legged species that’s often exposed to antibiotics?
Writing in TreeHugger.com, Katherine Martinko notes, “Once shoppers refuse to buy meat laced with antibiotics, many large-scale operations will be forced to change their production standards. It is possible to find antibiotic-free meat, but it usually costs more — not a bad thing, considering that we should all be eating far less meat for environmental reasons. If you do eat conventional meat, then choose carefully; pork has the highest levels of antibiotics, followed by chicken, then beef.”
The article concludes with this advice: “For the sake of your health, any weight loss goals you may have, and the wellbeing of future generations, make buying antibiotic-free meat a priority, adopt a reducetarian approach to animal products, or eliminate meat and dairy completely from your diet.”
Weird But True: In 2002, Americans were about an inch taller and 24 pounds heavier than they were in the 1960s. More than one-third are now classified as obese. Diet and lifestyle are primarily to blame but some scientists wonder whether antibiotics might also play a role.
John McGran has been writing about health and weight loss for several national companies since 2000. He brings his knowledge of diets — and his passion for dropping pounds — to Meal Plan Map because he believes it is the future of smart, stress-free eating and improved health.