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A Different Obesity Timeline

The obesity epidemic is generally portrayed as a relatively recent phenomenon, but new research paints a different picture. John Komlos and Marek Brabec find (gated version here) that obesity rates actually began rising in the early 20th century, with significant upsurges after the two World Wars. The authors point out that “the ‘creeping’ nature of the epidemic, as well as its persistence, does suggest that its roots have been embedded deep in the social fabric and are nourished by a network of disparate sources…” Komlos and Brabec point to factors like the industrialization of food production, the spread of automobiles, the spread of the media, the IT revolution, and the growing culture of consumption in America to explain the trend.[%comments]