Fat Cat, Fat Human?
Now more than ever there is a wealth of scientific knowledge linking obiesity to diet and exercise, but did you know that scientists have now found that owners of overweight cats are 34% more likely to be overweight themselves? In an epedimiological study, Harry Leu and colleagues at the University of West Calgary have found strong causal evidece linking obeisity to overweight pets. Leu began his study in 2004, gathering information on the habits of over 4,000 families and their pets.
"The initial data indicated a noteworthy correlation between obeisity and the weight of companion animals," Leu said, "What we did not expect to find was that owners of pets who lost weight during the study period saw an average decrease in BMI of 1.7 points."
The effect was most notable for cat owners, whose BMI plummeted to 24 points form an average of 27.5 among families who made no other changes to their diet or exercise habits. To find out the cause of the substantial drop, Leu enlisted the help of Alfred Davies at the Univerity of South Bend. Davies is an evolutionary psychologist who has spent the last 30 years researching the relationships between domesticated companion animals and their human caretakers.
"Homo Sapiens and Felines have been evolving on a concurrent trajectory since mankind first began farming," Davies said. "These early farmers likely relied on cats to clear their grain stores of vermin and pests, and in return provided the cats with food and shelter over the harsh winters." Davies suggests that the result of this concurrent evolution is that human beings metabolic processes are influenced by the health of their companion felines. When vermin were abundant and cats feasted, food was more likely to spoil in the winter. Thus, "humans who responded to the health of their cats by gaining weight were more likely to survive the harsh winters," says Davies.
Ralph Ailes, CEO of Iams Corporation, was skeptical about the findings. "Iams food is specially formulated to maximize feline lifespans, to suggest that in doing so we are shortening the lives of pet owners is absurd." Ailes refused to comment further.
Leu disagrees with Ailes assesment. "The explanation fits the results of the study. Healthy cats means healthy owners." Leu's team is still analyzing the data for more findings. This study will be published next month.
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