And That’s Why We’re Fat
I’m behind the curve these days, but here’s Slime Mold Time Mold with an awesome blog series on obesity. The whole thing is worth a read, but the key theory is that the leading cause of obesity is some environmental contaminant that travels through the water.
First of all, we know that populations living at higher elevations have lower obesity rates than populations residing in lowlands:
See this map, where most of Colorado is very very white and the bottom of the Mississippi basin very dark. But race can’t be the only determinant of obesity, because the rest of the Eastern Seaboard is relatively slim too – particularly Massachusetts and New York.
Those who live in Denver get their tap water from pristine snowmelt, which flows downhill and accumulates contaminants before reaching residents at lower altitudes. Those near the mouth of the Mississippi are exposed to all the obesity-inducing pollutants accumulated elsewhere in the country.
What are the problematic contaminants? We have the usual suspects: Livestock antibiotics that damage the gut biome; perfluorinated and polyfluoroalkyl substances that disrupt endocrine function. The prevalence of these pollutants roughly match the parabolic increase in obesity since the 70s. However, the author’s prime suspect is lithium, an industrial additive and battery component. Lithium is also prescribed as a mood stabilizer, with impaired thyroid function and weight gain as known side effects.
What if none of this was an accident? Beginning in 1951, major cities in the US and abroad began adding fluoride to the public water supply. Most of them still do this! The rationale is that fluoride helps prevent tooth decay, which seems like a really niche interest. If something as minor as tooth decay is enough to warrant additives in the public water, why not use the same strategy to address other public health concerns?
When Pfizer comes out with their COVID vaccine pill, are we going to grind that up and add it to public drinking water?
If I was the mayor of a violent city like Chicago, might I not consider adding a pacifier to the municipal water supply? An antidepressant like lithium carbonate, which has been successfully used to treat patients with aggressive conduct disorder? If we can justify fluoride for friggin tooth decay, surely we can justify lithium for public safety?
I don’t think any cities are actually doing this. But! Prison inmates are known to gain a substantial amount of weight during incarceration. This has been observed everywhere from county jails to Guantanamo Bay. Researchers blame poor health care and lack of fresh fruit, but come on – this is prison. Food is bland and delivered in restricted portions. It’s nearly impossible to gain weight on jail food, unless something else is going on. If I were a corrections officer surrounded by potentially dangerous criminals, I would not hesitate to dope the water with sedatives.
Of course, our rulers would never do that to us…right? Well, time to bust out the distiller.