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The Fattening of America
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The Fattening of America

Insulin injections are one way to treat diabetes.

Topic

Diabetes Research

Student Exploration

You Going To Store That?

The ability to rapidly put on weight in the form of storage fat is a great advantage for animals in changing environments. This allows animals to eat large when resources are plentiful, storing the excess energy they gain as fat and then living off this fat when resources are scarce. It's a nice little system which helps animals survive. This situation applies to humans as well, except in many countries, especially the United States, humans are very good at producing, eating and storing food so those lean times the fat is being stored for are few and far between. What does this situation mean? Problems! For some people, life-threatening problems. Our bodies developed to deal with conditions of "feast and famine" not "feast and feast". Simply put, this situation is starting to affect people's health.

Extension Investigation

Use the resources below to answer the following questions:

  1. What percentage of the American population is considered "medically overweight"?
  2. What was the FGF1 gene found to do in mice? Why was this discovery significant for human health?
  3. Do you think pharmaceutical companies should release drugs if they don't know how they work? Why or why not? Be sure to consider both sides of this issue carefully before answering. Do you think the nature and origin of the conditions treated matters?
  4. Describe the pathway the Salk Institute uses to take basic research and apply it to specific problems? Do you think this is an effective approach? Why or why not?
  5. Distinguish between medically overweight and obese? Is excess weight always bad?

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