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Can we avoid the Obesularity?

Obesity is the new abnormal

Did you notice the latest gloomy news on obesity? Namely, that on current predictions half of all adults in the US will be clinically obese by 2030. There’s even worse too; one quarter of all adults will be severely obese. That means they are at least 100 lbs. over their ideal body weight and experiencing conditions such as diabetes. Wow.

By way of comparison, currently 40% of adults are obese (8% with severe obesity) and 32% are overweight. So, in all, 72% of the US population is overweight or worse right now. OMG

Let’s think about this. By 2040 around 60% of people will be obese and say another 35% (being generous) will be overweight, for a total of 95% of the population. Each year an additional 1% of the population becomes obese. So, by 2080 the entire US population will be obese.

I call this the Obesularity. That’s when 100% of the population is obese. We’re rounding on that figure right now. But if you include overweight people, functionally we’re nearly at the Obesularity right now.

How so? 75% of us are overweight or worse as we speak. The 25% of people who have a normal weight are diminishing by say 1.5% per annum. So, 10% will be normal by 2030. Normalcy in girth is going the way of the dodo.

So, we have to change all our clothing sizes. Make cars bigger. How about airplane seats? And what about the rates of diabetes, blood pressure, metabolic diseases and their complications.?

The Obesularity means the Sickularity too. That is, when every man jack of us have some sort of metabolic disease.

Yeah, I know. Aren’t I promoting a biased and politically incorrect view of our collective body image? Probably. But what about universal diabetes? Is it politically incorrect to talk about that?

No tummy tucks now

Weren’t new-fangled approaches such as intermittent fasting and the keto diet supposed to fix these problems. Wasn’t obesity in kids supposed to have plateaued? Nope, apparently not; false alarm it seems.

Apparently, dieting doesn’t help people lose weight over the longer-term. Nor does anything else it seems. Is it something in the water, or chemicals our food? No-one knows.

Remember the plus-plus size passengers in the colony spaceship that was orbiting Earth while WALL E cleaned up the mess back at the ranch? They couldn’t walk because they were so big. At the time that looked drôle. Now it looks like that’s the future.

The Obesularity looks to be inevitable? Do we accept the inevitability and just wear pants with elastic bands as an automatic Thing?

Will the airlines for God’s sakes make airplane seats bigger by then or will we all kill each other before we actually hit the Obesularity?

Doesn’t look good, right?

The gene fix

I personally think we have to do something.  IMHO the only way of doing it is through using genetic engineering. Yep, that’s what we’re not supposed to use coz it’s eugenics and we all know the history of that. Hmm, universal obesity or eugenics; not a great choice. Well, that’s life.

OK so here’s the trick. It’s called a gene drive. A gene drive is a genetic engineering technique that coaxes recessive genes to be dominant.  And here’s the thing; the gene will recur in every successive generation without anyone having to do anything. So, it can spread a gene throughout an entire population over a series of generations.

If you want to check the gory details, check here. Because the new genetic technologies around CRISPR are still moving forward quickly, multiple types and categories of gene drive are being formulated and developed.

Gene drives are in the early stages. They carry a lot of promise. For example, they are being proposed as a way to genetically engineer mosquitoes that don’t carry the malaria parasite. Naturally there are a huge number of potential uses.

So why not obesity folks?

Brave slim world

If you use genetic engineering to solve the obesity crisis, most people don’t have to do anything at all. In principle you just enroll people in a program that will use gene drive approaches to undergo therapy that changes their genes in the required manner.

But even if they are obese, they won’t change in any way. Changes will only be seen in subsequent generations. So, they won’t see the benefits; only their kids (possibly) and succeeding generations. So, the more people who do it, the faster and the more widespread the change.

The bad news? If you do it yourself, you won’t get any thinner unless you take other actions like dieting and even then, they will only be as successful as they are for most people, that is, not very or at all.

So, this is something for altruists. They won’t benefit but their descendants will. Is that a good deal, do you think?

There are going to be people who, legitimately, argue that we are making a choice for descendants that binds them to a particular type of body in which they had no choice. Of course, it could be argued that none of us had a choice in our particular body configuration and form, but it’s still an arguable case.

I guess we have to say that it’s a public health policy choice that has far-reaching ethical ramifications and so we would have to subject this to a public process which ultimately would be transformed into a political choice. Perhaps in the end, this particular way forward would be rejected for whatever reasons and then we still have to figure out how to deal with the obesity problem all over again.

We’re not at that stage yet. But we are almost there. What we can say with a high degree of certainty is that most humans will soon be obese. The big issue here is the public health implications which are increasingly dire.

There may be ways of confronting the adverse health consequences without solving what caused them in the first place, namely obesity. That’s another direction. What if we can’t cure obesity? I don’t personal support it, but it’s definitely an option.

Either way folks, the issue is upon us.

Eugenics or obesity? That is the question.









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