&#91FOUNTAIN&#93Balky genes give us problems

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&#91FOUNTAIN&#93Balky genes give us problems

Three women who failed in losing weight met at a restaurant. They were determined to find a sure-fire diet to lose weight. The first woman said, “Let’s drink only water for a month.” The second woman suggested a “disease diet,” saying that if their stomachs were ruined by drinking 10 boilermakers every day, they would lose their appetites. The third woman’s idea was even stranger. “Let’s ask geneticists to eradicate all obesity genes from our bodies,” she said.
These days, dieting is a regular topic of conversation. Sometimes we feel like pigs sitting around a dining table. Experts say that obesity can increase the chances of falling victim to diabetes by seven times and hypertension by six times. It is also reported that 300,000 persons die yearly in the United States due to obesity. Why can the contemporary generation not escape from gluttony? “Mean Genes,” a book which was translated into Korean and published recently, put forward an interesting interpretation. Disagreement between genes and the social environment produced obesity, it propounded. Our human ancestors managed to live on animals they hunted and fruits they picked for 100,000 years. They had to get as much nutrition as possible once they found food and store up fat in their bodies until the next hunting success. After satiating themselves, they moved as little as possible to conserve energy. In the end, only greedy and lazy genes survived.
But we don’t have to go far to hunt for food. We can obtain it at a nearby supermarket and we can eat food whenever we open our refrigerators. We have lived this kind of life just for a century. It is too short a period of time for genes to change. Genes that have a memory of satiety still order our brains to gobble up whatever we see.
Kraft Foods, the biggest food manufacturer in the United States, recently announced that it would eliminate or greatly reduce fatty acids in all of its cookies and crackers. A bill to levy a tax on fast foods that are easy to eat but high in calories was introduced in the New York City Council. Those are tactics to confront “mean genes.”
It is not only the human body that needs to go on a diet. It seems that in our society there are organization genes that still give orders to its brain to gobble up whatever food is available. Even though the era has gone into the pages of history, the genes seem to control our social and political affairs.

by Lee Kyu-youn

The writer is a deputy city news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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