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Obesity - Endemic Conditions

fat, corpulence, disposition and production


The influences leading to a marked obesity and a disposition to corpulence under various climatic and endemic conditions, customs, and habits, are always those whose effect and modes operandi have been explained above.

Under the hot sun of southern climates the combustion of fat is most restricted with regard to the production of heat; therefore a diet which is just sufficient for the needs of the body in a temperate zone will lead to the deposition of fat, perhaps in considerable amount. The moist and warm air of the lowlands and wide plains is more favorable to corpulence than the colder air of the highlands which requires the combustion of more fat for the production of heat, and furthermore, owing to the formation of the ground, there is the necessity for greater muscular activity in climbing, as opposed to a simple walk in the plains. Accordingly we find corpulence far more frequent among the Orientals, southern Italians, Dutchmen, South Sea Islanders, etc., and also observe in them a more marked hereditary disposition to general corpulence than in those who live in northern climates and mountain regions.

Peculiar habits and customs, local modes of nutrition, and no tions regarding bodily conformation and beauty frequently give rise, among people and tribes of inferior civilization, to the production of more or less extensive and sometimes frightful forms of obesity, by means of artificially forced feeding. Among the older writers it is

reported by Alpin that Egyptian women consume excessive quantities of fatty drinks, especially soup made from fattened chickens always taken in connection with the flesh of a pullet, in order to acquire great obesity which they prize most highly. Poor women who are unable to afford such a luxury drink with the same object oil of se same, oil from Indian nuts or hermodactylus, take prolonged baths in warm sweetened water, eat and drink in the bath where they also take enemas of various fats, especially that of the bear So also it is reported by Hesse-Wartegg that the Jewesses of Tunis when barely ten years old are systematically fattened by being confined in dark narrow rooms and fed with farinaceous articles and the flesh of young dogs, * until in the course of a few months they resemble shape less lumps of fat. Within a like brief period Moorish women are said to attain the desired corpulence by the ingestion of a drink made from honey and a diet of fresh dates.

That such a popular method of fattening, continued for genera tions, may finally lead to an hereditary disposition cannot be doubted, in view of Boloff 's experiments in this direction. However, we must not understand by this an endemic hereditary disposition to pro nounced fat hyperplasia among a certain race of people, and we should not designate it by this term.