Michael Skinner didn’t start the experiment with the hypothesis that he’d find a connection between the insecticide DDT and obesity.
“We didn’t expect to find that,” he said. “In fact, the frequency of obesity really came as a surprise.”
Skinner, a scientist at Washington State University, wanted to take a close look at the way DDT affected inheritance. So his team injected DDT into pregnant rats and watched first their children, and then their grandchildren (or is it grandrats?). It was only in the third generation, the great-grand-rat, that they saw it: Fully half of these rats were obese. The implication is that the same thing could be happening with humans. “Is there a correlation between the fact that we were all exposed to DDT in the 1950s for 10 years, and the fact that we are now seeing high levels of obesity?” Skinner asked. His work suggests that there could be.
Of course, the more immediate cause of obesity is too many calories. But there may be more going on here than too much food. Humans are getting fat, so are our pets, so are wild animals. There’s a trend toward obesity in nearly every species scientists have studied.
Of course it’s too early to lay the blame on DDT. This study simply raised the possibility. But the findings are plausible.
(Continued at link)