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04/04/2016 / By Michael Bundrant
Childhood obesity has become a real public health crisis within the span of the turn of the century. Many people are left scratching their heads and wondering what has changed so dramatically between then and now?
The issue has taken enough gravitas that the First Lady of the United States has engaged in political theater on dealing with the issue. Many fingers have been pointed, and there is certainly enough blame to go around. But a new study has found that the unlikeliest of places may be another factor in the rise of youth obesity—excessive antibiotics.
Within the agricultural community, the common wisdom has long dictated that the easiest, most economical way to give one’s livestock some weight was to give them antibiotics. The mechanisms by which this phenomenon is explained still eludes scientists. But they have a set of conjectures.
Although this knowledge was common among the farming community, scientists are just now piecing together data sets that paint a disturbing picture for humans. It appears that babies who receive three or more courses of antibiotics in the first two years of their life, can expect a statistically significant (and moderately so) increase the chance of being obese by the age of four.
This study is more concerning because it links to other studies that were individual discovering pieces of this puzzle.
This study is important because it engages scientists to re-envision the scope and timescale that they are using to look at the problem. Most of the research was focused on cause and effect relationships that took place immediately or nearly immediately.
That is to say, most of the research was focused on finding compound X which would trigger a chain reaction in the child’s body that caused obesity with the end result being “don’t expose your child to compound X.” Using that strategy, significant discoveries were made, but evidently, that is not the only level at which things are having an effect on the health and weight of young children.
Another problem among scientists is the way that obesity is measured. A similar, although critically different, study was conducted and the authors reached the conclusion that vaccinations made for insignificant weight gains (on the prospect of 150 grams).
However, this second group used the body mass index as their measuring stick. Money is being poured into this arena to solve these discrepancies. Despite the results of the first study, the head scientist still maintains that antibiotics ought not be denied to a baby whose life is otherwise jeopardized by it not being administered.
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