Coming Down With a Bad Case of Fat

Is Obesity Contagious Like The Common Cold?

By Robert A. George
|  Tuesday, Feb 3, 2009  |  Updated 12:11 AM CDT
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Coming Down With a Bad Case of Fat

Perhaps Denny Crane was right... obesity is contagious?

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Denny Crane!!
 
...was right. The recently departed (off to that great TV graveyard in the sky) Boston attorney opined not too long ago that perhaps obesity was contagious.

  From that fear, he fires an overweight female lawyer at the firm of Crane, Pool & Schmidt. Of course the fired lawyer sued. Crane's bigotry on the issue was played for laughs, though the suit was judged frivolous and the firm won.
 
But in an odd case of life imitating art, it seems that Crane might have been right on the merits: There's a study out suggesting that a virus may cause people to pack on the pounds:

Nikhil Dhurandhar, an associate professor at The Pennington Biomedical Research Center, in Baton Rouge, La., said the virus, known as AD-36, infects the lungs then whisks around the body, forcing fat cells to multiply and also causing sore throats. "When this virus goes to fat tissue it replicates, making more copies of itself and in the process increases the number of new fat cells, which may explain why the fat tissue expands and why people get fat when they are infected with this virus," Dhurandhar said.
Obviously, this study warrants more study. That said, what does this say about Obama's "new era of responsibility"? For that matter, what does this say about the big government nanny-state ideas imposed by New York city Mayor Michael Bloomberg ("ban trans-fats!!!") or Gov. David Paterson ("tax non-diet soda!!!" or California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ("calorie counts on every restaurant menu!!!")?

Contrary to the Bard, the fault, lies not in ourselves, but in the stars...Or perhaps in the microbes. 
 
We can't help ourselves -- it's a worldwide fat-fluenza!
 
Or something like that. Doesn't it seem somewhat odd that this new virus has just popped up now? This is all apparently about what we ingest -- by mouth or nose -- but not what we do? Can it really be the case that modern "play" -- which has more to do with sitting on our butts with a console or computer in hand, rather  than actually running, kicking and passing a ball -- doesn't fit into the scenario?

Regardless, this study does force both the "personal responsibility" right and the "we-know-what's-best-for-you nanny left" to go recognize that there might be a third way that doesn't fit into either of their world views. 
 
Robert A. George is a New York writer. He blogs at Ragged Thots and dabbles in stand-up comedy.  

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