Overweight animals

Source: dierenwelzijnsweb.nl
Overweight in animals often makes the news, yet there seems to be more going on than just getting too much food and too little exercise. A large study at the University of Alabama (USA) showed that animals ...
just living near people can be susceptible to overweight. Twenty-four animal populations were studied: eight different species and a total of twenty thousand animals. Weight data were available for a period spanning decades. Animals studied were laboratory primates (e.g., macaques and chimpanzees) and rats, pet cats and dogs, and wild rats caught for pest control.

In all of the studied populations, the average weight had increased over the last decades. The chance of developing obesity had also increased significantly in all groups. Researchers assert that these results point to other explanations for weight gain besides too much food intake and / or too little exercise. Other reasons named are environmental exposure to substances that affect metabolism; hereditary tendency to gain weight; and the effects of certain viruses.

Overweight can lead to illnesses such as diabetes, respiratory difficulties, tendon and joint strains, and digestive system problems. Animals with overweight are more sensitive to heat and have a shorter lifespan. Laboratory animals with overweight can skew test results; furthermore, a shortened lifespan also means that more lab animals are needed for testing.