Monkeys Fattened Up for Obesity Research
One of the latest attempts in trying to solve this problem is to fatten up the laboratory monkeys and then to try to core them with the aid of various research medications. The monkeys which are located at these facilities are given foods very high in calories, and sugary drinks on a daily basis. They do not do too much, as they are encouraged to sit and eat for a very large part of the day. This regime is successful, as the majority of the monkeys have very large bellies; sometimes they are so big, that when they sit on their fours, their bellies reach the floor. It seems like a cruel thing to do to them, but the scientists have stated that it is very important to do so; they said that the diabetes and obesity epidemics are too high in order to be ignored. Kevin L. Grove, who works at the Oregon National Primate Research Center is the lead researcher of this experiment. He stated that his main goal is to simulate the way in which the humans spend their lives and the way in which they end up looking.
The so-called couch potato lifestyle is very common in the United States of America, and he believes that that is the main reason why people end of being obese. They do not exercise, and they eat only junk food. The experts have stated that the primates are excellent for this test, as they are very similar to the humans. Unlike the laboratory rats, these animals resemble the humans from a physiological point of view. Their eating habit is also very similar to our own as well. The monkeys, just like the humans, often eat when they are bored, and they also eat when they are sad, or when they have been bothered from a psychological point of view. There are many cases when these monkeys eat when they are not hungry, just like many people do. Instead of using the food as fuel, they are using it for pleasure. On top of that, it is much easier for the researchers to analyze what these monkeys eat than it is to analyze the food which the people eat. The monkeys are controlled, whereas the humans aren’t. These monkeys are kept in individual cages, sometimes for years, in order to be able to do as little exercise as possible. The situation with the rest of the monkeys is different, as they live in groups, and they have the entire yard to play, to exercise, and so on.
These monkeys have food, and that’s it. Dr. Grove has stated that his researchers have been the target of the animal rights’ group for a very long time now, but he said hat it is extremely essential to study these animals, in order to understand the way in which both them and us become fat. It seems that the experiment is useful, as Rhythm, a drug company has manufactured a diet drug which worked on 40 percent of the monkeys. These monkeys reduced their food intake, and managed to lose 13 percent of their body weight. They did not show signs of heart problems either, and that is a great thing. Bart Henderson, who is the president of Rhythm said that since the monkeys did not show any signs of heart problems, he is now considering to test the drug on humans as well. The researchers are also trying to compare the weight loss results from forced dieting and bypass surgeries. It has been observed that in the case of the bypass surgeries, the diabetes is eliminated, whereas in the case of losing weight from dieting, the diabetes remains there. It is unknown why this happens, but it is believed that it has to do with certain hormones from the body, which are eliminated or triggered through the bypass surgery. Some of the monkeys will be killed, so that the researchers will be able to analyze their brains and pancreases. As you can imagine, such a thing would be illegal, and immoral in the case of the humans.
There are more than 4,000 monkeys at the center, 150 of them being overweight or obese. They are sick because of the weight; the majority of these 150 monkeys have diabetes and heart problems. They receive insulin on a daily basis, and they also receive heart pills. Some of them have died because of their weight, and the ones who have died were young. The normal weight of a rhesus macaque, the species which is predominant at this center, is 20 pounds. The overweight ones have at least 45 or 50 pounds, and they all have a common trait: their fat is stored mainly in the belly and not in the arms or legs. The food which they consume contains mostly fat, just like in the case of many people. However, their diet contains lots of proteins as well, which can not be said about the human diet.
These monkeys also receive peanuts, popcorn, and peanut butter as well. Consider them to be their daily snacks, if you will. They used to receive sweets as well, but they developed tooth problems, so the researchers stopped giving them sweets. As you can see, the food which they consume is not exactly healthy, but the reality is that the majority of the people eat in this manner as well. In the majority of the cases, they consume twice the amount of required daily calories. These monkeys also receive drinks high in fructose, similar to the sodas many people consume. The researchers have stated that these drinks are very important, as they are the ones which usually cause the fatness and the diabetes. The sweets from the drinks are absorbed much faster than the ones from the foods. It seems that the sodas are very influential when it comes to the body weight of the primates, and it is believed that the same thing happens in the case of the humans as well. However, not all the monkeys get fat because they consume a high fat diet. They get fat because they consume a high caloric diet. This proves that the high-fat diet makes you fat myth is nothing but a myth, and it is not real. The monkeys also get fat in time just like the humans do. As they get older their metabolism slows down, so the body puts on more fat than it should.
The interesting thing is that some of these monkeys received a diet recommended by the American Heart Association, and they still got fat. They try to make these animals slimmer by administering them certain drugs, but they are not always successful. They have tried these researches and experiments on the rodents as well, but the results were not conclusive, as the rodents do not put on weight in the same manner as the humans do. The same drugs do not work on different animals. For example, a drug which made the rodents lose weight, made the primates gain even more weight. The drug was not tested on humans, and the way in which it would have influenced the body weight of an individual is unknown. However, these drugs which have caused weight gain in the case of the primates, could be used in the case of the humans who suffer from illness such as cancer. In the majority of the cases these people lost lots of weight, and they need the extra weight in order to feel better. There are certain researchers who have stated that testing the primates is not a good thing, because there are various problems associated with this custom. First of all, in order to do researchers on the primates, the laboratory would need to spend at least one million dollars. Second, there are only a few primates which can be used and because of that, the results might be biased. If only 10 animals can be used from 100, that does not mean that the results are conclusive, and that they represent the entire species.
They have also stated that doing these researchers on the primates is unethical, but there are scientists such as Dr. Lee M. Kaplan, director of the weight center at Massachusetts General Hospital, who believe that doing these researchers on humans is just as unethical. As I said, there were numerous animal rights’ groups who verbally attacked these people saying that what they do is wrong. They have said that keeping the animals inside the cages is very cruel, not to mention the fact that the food which they receive is bad for their health and in certain cases it leads to their death. They have said that some of these primates are being kept in very unsanitary conditions. In all the cases, the spokespeople for these research centers said that the animal activists do not have evidences to prove that what they say is true. The spokespeople also stated that these laboratories are often verified by the Department of Agriculture, and that they could not find anything wrong with them. They admit that offering this type of food to the monkeys is not good for their health, but they said that these tings must be done in order to improve the situation of the people.
However, there are many people who do not believe that these studies are necessary. They have said that in the majority of the cases, these studies lead to nothing, besides the injuries or the deaths of the animals. They said that the animals suffer a lot. For example it was discovered that when the offspring of the monkeys which received a high-fat diet when they were pregnant, suffered from various diseases when they grew older. They have also proven that the monkeys which were kept in cages were more stressed than the ones which were allowed to go outside in order to play. The activists have said that these animals do not deserve this punishment, especially because of the fact that we are greedy, and that we do not know when to stop eating. Dr. Grove said that the criticism is always welcomed because thanks to that, they are able to do their job much better. They want to prove the critics that they aren’t doing anything wrong and that their researchers are useful. The researchers have discovered that the health of the offspring is influenced by the diet of the women during pregnancy, and that the weight of the woman is not important at all. The diet during those nine months is way more important than the weight of the woman.
Not all the research centers keep the animals isolated. Some of them allow them to stay with another primate in the cage, because after all, these animals are social beings, and they are happier when they are in the company of a different being of their kind. Dr. Grove said that the reason why they keep the animals isolated is because they want to recreate the sedentary life of various people who do nothing but sit and eat all day long. It seems that the United States of America is not the only country which does these researches. China has numerous such research centers as well. It is believed that they will become more common in the future because the pharmaceutical companies could make lots of money from the drugs which they will develop as a result of the discoveries.11