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5 Reasons the Obesity Epidemic is Spreading to Animals

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5 Reasons the Obesity Epidemic is Spreading to Animals

By Sara Novak, Planet Green

The American obesity epidemic has become a hot topic of news. And with good reason considering we’re the fattest nation in the world and we’re only getting fatter. But a new study led by David Allison, a biostatistician at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B and reported in Scientific American has shown that animals are experiencing the same problem. And this isn’t just household pets as you may expect, it’s animals that live anywhere close to humans.

Allison and his team examined the changes in weight of 24 different species, 12 male and 12 female. Some of the varied species included household pets like cats and dogs as well as feral rats that live near humans. The researchers tracked weight gain per decade.

According to the study:

Because there were no clear guidelines for what animals should weigh, the authors defined obesity as the weight above the 85th percentile in each group at the earliest time point for which they had data. Both the percentage increase in body weight and the odds of an animal being overweight in a given population showed a strong trend upwards.

So what’s causing animals to get fatter? Why are dogs and cats becoming more susceptible to weight gain along with farm animals and rodents? Both the study authors and other relevant animal experts came to conclusions about why so many species were fattening up, many of which may surprise you.

Related: American Pets Getting Fatter

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Read more: Diet & Nutrition, Health, Pets,

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Samantha, selected from Planet Green

Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, and, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.


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12:46AM PDT on Mar 19, 2013

The name of this list is misleading. 3 reasons are correct, 2 have no reason for being here. All of these reasons are alarming for the health of animals. However, I'd be more concerned with the increase in incidence of cancers in the animals most affected by numbers three and five, than worried about their obesity.

I would want to know ANY specific data that says otherwise.

11:24PM PDT on Sep 11, 2012

I don't understand how someone could let their child (animal or human) become very overweight or obese. If someone is starving their child it is considered cruelty and neglect yet if someone over feeds their child and lets them sit around and not exercise (once again this is for human or animal child) and yet that is not considered cruelty and neglect!? Either way you are killing your child!

5:46PM PST on Jan 20, 2011

thank you.

7:38PM PST on Dec 29, 2010

Interesting. Of our three cats only one is chubby, and he is the most mellow as well.

3:43PM PST on Dec 29, 2010

too much food and lack of exercise, same reason humans are getting fatter

1:32AM PST on Dec 28, 2010

My great grandparents built their own farm by hand. They also used to have dogs, none of the family were overweight. Until now, of course. I think we need to adopt the philosophy of work hard, play hard. We don't do farming like they used to. We now have office jobs and what not. Without the extra workout, we can't eat like farmers and not expect to get fat. Just remember, depending on your body type, if you exercise or not, what you do for a living, etc, all depends on what you can/can't eat.

With the prepackaged food along with processed food, comes the problem also, because they're not made to be nutritious, they're made to be convenient. Eat real food. The process of cooking can help you lose weight because you're working for it. Plus it's healthier and tastier.

6:22PM PST on Dec 27, 2010

It's because of stupid sedentary humans that animals get fat because, some don't have time to walk them outside...

5:39PM PST on Dec 27, 2010

Thanx good article facts

11:58PM PST on Dec 26, 2010

All of this makes perfect sense. My dogs are not obese, because they walk with us down the cliffs to the dog beach, hike with us, chase tennis balls, and nonstop romp with each other.

Some of my cats are obese, but surprisingly only the ones that are NOT content to remain indoors only. The semi-feral, outdoors only kitties are all slim, the indoors only are normal, but of the 3 indoor kitties who insist on slipping out whenever we let down our guard, 2 are obese.

I hate letting any cats outside, especially friendly ones who do not disappear at the first whiff of an unfamiliar person. Look at all of the petitions and stories on care2 alone targeting freaks who like to torture cats (usually on youtube, SICKO PERVERTS).

I appreciate the information, but please be careful. Your comment about indoor only cats obesity might induce some people to let their (formerly indoor only) cats go outdoors. This might help their obesity, but it certainly won't help their longevity if they are hit by a car, or grabbed by a sadist with ulterior motives.

8:17PM PST on Dec 26, 2010

no surprise....but i do need to get up and get busy...means less time for care2...

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Aren't herbs wonderful. Thanks for the information.

"...I'm Starting With The Man In The Mirror, I'm Asking Him To Change His Ways.. And No Message C…


Sarah Hill Sarah Hill
on Kaleidoscope Quinoa
15 minutes ago

One wants in and the other wants out. :-)


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