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Yard-long churros and the fight against obesity

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Last month, as I quipped about deceitful advertising practices used by marketers of some fitness and body enhancement products, a dear comadre reminded me that my somewhat imperceptible love handles are a joke compared with the national obesity epidemic. True; it’s all relative.

Two decades ago, there wasn’t a state in the nation with an obesity rate above 15 percent. That’s no longer the case. In F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health reveal that 38 states have obesity rates of over 25 percent. Twelve states fare even worse with rates above 30 percent. 

¡Jesús, María y José! 

If you are doing the math, only one state did relatively well in the survey. Coloradoans have the distinct privilege of being the leanest in the nation, with a, ahem, mere 19.8 percent obesity rate. 

Despite knowing the facts and the stats on the subject, it wasn’t until a recent trip to Disney World that those figures took shape right before my eyes – literally. Reality hit me as I walked Main Street among a good portion of the 33.8 percent of adults and 17 percent of children in the nation who are obese.

As I stood in line to ride “It’s a Small World,” it became evident the people around me were not small at all. Au contraire. Many fellow visitors to the Happiest Place on Earth were very big, circumference-wise. I suddenly felt like an extra in a sequel of the documentary Super Size Me: A Film of Epidemic Proportions. Although I’m prone to hyperbole, my viejo can back me up on this one. We saw Disney enthusiasts galore holding a smoked turkey leg as big as a mini Chihuahua in one hand and a churro almost as long as Darth Vader’s light saber in the other. De veras.

I’m sure these images made an impression on my hubby, as he has not gotten anywhere near the flour tortillas since we returned from our trip. He even became visibly excited after reading the news about a new breakthrough in the fight against obesity. He’s been so hyped about it, he’s told me about it five times. 

As it turns out, his excitement may be justified. Researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston injected “couch potato” rhesus monkeys with a drug that destroys the blood vessels that support fat cells. This strategy of targeting specific cells and annihilating them is known as angiogenesis inhibition and is used in some cancer drugs. 

After 28 days on the drug, the plump monkeys shed 11 percent of their weight and 27 percent of their abdominal fat with no significant side effects. This is exciting because the drug attaches itself only to white fat cells, the kind linked to Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Also cause for jubilation is the fact that once released into the bloodstream, the fat doesn’t disrupt the metabolism or mess up the arteries. Instead, it’s burned as fuel. Cool, huh? 

The bad news is that the lazy monkeys gained all the weight back just two weeks after they stopped taking the drug. 

Conspiracy theorists would have me believe this is on purpose. A dream come true for big pharma!  

For sure, I’ll keep an eye out on this. If it doesn’t trim my waistline, I’m sure its stock will fatten my skimpy retirement account.

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