Friday, August 14, 2009

The Truth About Obesity

Ray Comfort is at it again. Today he decided to reject all medical understanding of obesity and made a bunch of bogus claims about it. Here's what, "Dr." Ray Comfort wrote:

By the way, obesity is not caused genetically as some maintain. Neither is it a disease (although some medical conditions cause weight gain)... Obesity is caused by self-indulgence--by eating too much food or by eating the wrong food.

Bogus Claim A: Obesity is not genetic.

First of all, 80% of children whose parents were both obese become obese. That alone should tell you that obesity is genetic. More improtantly, some of the genes that affect obesity rates have been identified.

- FTO Gene: The FTO gene is associated with the orexin peptide responsible for controlling appetite.

- NPC1 gene: The NPC1 gene regulates the transport of cholesterol between cells.

Similarly the following loci have also been discovered which are responsible for the following conditions which play a role in obesity:

- 2p23.3: Proopiomelanocortin deficiency
- 18q22: Melanocortin-4 receptor polymorphism
- 5q15-q21: Prohormone convertase-1 deficiency
- 7q31.3: Leptin deficiency
- 1p31: Leptin receptor deficiency

To list every gene discovered to play a role in BMI would take too much room on this blog as I barely scratched the surface on what has been found. Regardless of the number of identified genes regulating obesity, the claim that obesity isn't genetic has been totally debunked.

Bogus Claim B: Obesity isn't a disease.

In developed nations, obesity is considered a disease; although 3rd world nations may consider obesity a sign of wealth and opulence. Regardless, obesity is a medical condition since it affects the health of patient. Ray even agrees that obesity has been linked to health problems, so I don't understand this statement at all.

Bogus Claim C: Obesity is only caused by people eating too much.

While I won't disagree that a bad diet and lack of exercise can exacerbate obesity, here's a fact that blows Ray's claim out of the water:

Most overweight people are actually eating less than slender people. That does not seem to make sense, but it is true. The problem lies with how the body is able to burn or utilize the calories from the foods we eat. Thinner people simply burn off more calories, or energy, than heavy people do.

- source

That's right, obese people usually eat less than thin people. I don't need to say any more.

Ray Comfort, you've just been debunked again.


  1. Ray really throws softballs to debunk but Penn and Teller took on this same subject. I am at work so I can't look through youtube to find it. That episode of Bullshit! is very good. The name of the episode is Eat This!


    This is part of it.

  3. That's right, obese people usually eat less than thin people. I don't need to say any more.
    - - - - - -
    I couldn't agree more. In fact, I wish the skinny people would save the fat people more food so that they could get skinny too! But that would lead to the skinny people getting fat because they would now be eating less. Oh, this is such a vicious cycle. Let's just let the scientists handle it.

    1. I think if the parents and kids are fat, it's likely because they're all eating the same fattening foods. To prove a genetic link, you'd have to look at kids who were raised apart from their fat parents, and see if they grow up fat anyway. Second, I think the fact that obesity is more a problem for developed countries also points toward diet and lifestyle as the main factors. Our genetically designed, pesticized, fertilized, processed and preserved "foods" are hardly nutritious any more. That's the cost of living in an advanced culture where nobody grows their own food any more and extraordinary steps have to be taken to keep food from spoiling before it makes it to your table. It takes a serious effort to make sure you eat fresh foods that your body can use. How much easier it is to buy packages you can microwave in a minute, or just buy takeout from the nearest drive-through. But if you routinely eat fattening, unhealthy foods, and don't get enough exercise, it shouldn't be a surprise if you end up fat.

  4. FTO gene in obesity have been implicated in the risk of obesity and its complications. Thanks for sharing