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Researchers Enable Mice To Exhale Fat

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the americans-still-too-lazy-for-this-diet dept.

Biotech 328

destinyland writes "UCLA researchers made a startling discovery: genetic alterations enable mice to convert fat into carbon dioxide. Mammals digest fats differently than bacteria — so researchers introduced bacteria genes into mouse livers, and 'the excess fat was literally released into thin air.' (One researcher calls it 'an unconventional idea which we borrowed from plants and bacteria.') The research potentially could help treat serious medical conditions including diabetes, heart disease — and of course, obesity."

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Global warming? (2, Funny)

basementman (1475159) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656355)

The earth is screwed if we ever get this to work on humans. Good news is that we will be able to build Burger Kings in Antarctica. Bad news is that the burgers will be made out of penguins.

No, even worse. (4, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656389)

The problem is that global warming legislation will raise energy costs, alter land use, and, ultimately, in a few hundred years, shorten the growing season. So we're pretty much setting ourselves up to go through getting a bit thinner. Cutting down on our ability to save fat is almost like evolutionary suicide. 100 years from now, it will be like the old days, people that are fat will be rare and obesity will be a sign of power and wealth.

Re:No, even worse. (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656481)

Were one to possess an evil streak several miles wide, engineering a virus to carry this little metabolism-enhancing genetic tweak would have... unpleasant effects on the bottom billion or two and, unlike most bioweapons, get the lardasses at home fit and trim.

Sounds like a vote-winner to me.

TEACH? (3, Insightful)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656875)

Altering the genetic make up of an organism is now a form of teaching? :-)

Yeah. That'll be the f*cked-up NewSpeak they'll use on the 24-hour news drone, as they splice our children with 'obedience training'.

Re:No, even worse. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28656489)

I'll file a patent for carbon capture and storage in humans!

Re:No, even worse. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28656507)

alter land use

Land use is already being altered by weeks of scorching record highs down here where we actually grow the food you eat. Whine all you want about how New York having a cool day means the world isn't getting warmer; when the corn crops start dying from the longer (and hotter) growing season, you'll be more than "a bit thinner".

Re:No, even worse. (1, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656787)

Whine all you want about how New York having a cool day means the world isn't getting warmer; when the corn crops start dying from the longer (and hotter) growing season, you'll be more than "a bit thinner".

Markets don't lie.

Food prices falling across the board [newsday.com]

Says to me that there's not a corn shortage.

Re:No, even worse. (2, Insightful)

jshazen (233469) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656897)

With the oil/gas prices going back down from their highs last year, using corn to produce ethanol isn't cost-effective, so the artificial (non-food use) shortage is relieved.

Re:No, even worse. (4, Interesting)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656969)

The cost of corn is very very very dependent on the cost of oil. Due to the energy hungry nitrogen fixation process required to make the fertilizer so rich in energy it can be used to make bombs (see the Oklahoma city bombing for the effects a van-load can have), corn has been described as being "edible oil", due to it taking 2 calories of oil energy to create 1 calorie of corn energy. Oil goes down, corn prices go down, food prices go down. Don't get me started on the wet milling process required to make corn products into xanthan gum, corn oil, natural raspberry flavor, and the hundreds of other corn derivatives that you read on the ingredients label of just about every processed food. (but a 13:1 energy in:energy out ratio comes to mind). Also, when it comes to meat, it takes 9 pounds of corn to make 1 pound of cow. There is definitely a trickle down effect where the price of food is based on the price of oil.

Other food prices are also dependent on oil prices due to fertilizer costs and transportation costs as well.

Re:No, even worse. (1)

Munden (681257) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656983)

Whine all you want about how New York having a cool day means the world isn't getting warmer; when the corn crops start dying from the longer (and hotter) growing season, you'll be more than "a bit thinner".

Markets don't lie.

Food prices falling across the board [newsday.com]

Says to me that there's not a corn shortage.

::wakes up from cryofreeze from 2007::

Hey Guys what's up! Looks like my Cryofreeze is a complete success!

Now to pay back the bank for the loan to build my cryofreeze using the money I made off of all my estate investments.

Yup, I love that dependable -never go down- real estate market...

You see kids, all of the major markets today are completely transparent, never misleading and strictly regulated. I personally only picked AAA ra....

Supermodels with Bad Breath (1)

sanman2 (928866) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656581)

So we'll have lots of lean, taut people in the world, but they'll all have bad breath

Re:Supermodels with Bad Breath (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28656911)

Heh, so you've been with women who smoke and eat a lot of red meat?

Two words: stank pussy.

Having a bad day? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28656871)

Sounds like you're having a bad day, man. Cheep up.

Re:Global warming? (3, Funny)

rs79 (71822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656439)

Haven't they heard of global warming? Can't they get them to exhale chocolate?

Re:Global warming? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28656585)

how about just not being a lazy lardass fatass useless fuck in the first place? course if some scientist converts your fat to carbon dioxide then you never have to get over your helpless "its too haaaarrrrdddd" loser attitude. is that the selling point of this thing? how to lose weight without confronting the character flaws and loser tendencies that made you into a fatass in the first place. it's too much like cheating. really to hear these fatties talk you'd think that nothing they ever did could have possibly ever had anything to do whatsoever with their fatass lardass condition. their denial is the only thing more disgusting than their rolls of fat. i got news for you thunderthighs, less than one half of one percent of you fatasses have a thyroid disorder, all of the rest of you are lazy fucks with a million excuses.

MMmmm (3, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656479)

Have you tasted penguin? It's fucking delicious. Almost as good as bald eagle.

Re:Global warming? (2, Funny)

Zerth (26112) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656515)

You'd have to be able to exhale fat if you ate penguin burgers. Those guys are so fat, they can go for a month or two without eating practically anything.

Being fat actually gets the males more loving, as the females of some species are more likely to mate with those who have a more resonant mating call, indicating thickness and thus likelyhood of not keeling over from hunger while the female runs off for weeks at a time.

You could practically cook an emperor penguin on a fire of its own grease.

Re:Global warming? (1)

tacarat (696339) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656617)

The earth is screwed if we ever get this to work on humans. Bad news is that we will be able to build Burger Kings in Antarctica. Good news is that the burgers will be made out of penguins.

This message brought to you by the People for the Eating of Tasty Animals.

Re:Global warming? (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656677)

You've been livin in cave or something? The Chinese beat us to it! There is the Hunan Village serving take-out Kung-Pao Penguin!

Re:Global warming? (4, Informative)

RsG (809189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656831)

Ugh. I get tired of having to explain this. You'd think it'd stick the first dozen times or so, and I wouldn't have to keep repeating myself.

The CO2 from your breath is not the problem. The CO2 from your tailpipe is.

The reason is their source. Carbon from food is ultimately bound via photosynthesis; you either eat the plants or eat the animals that eat the plants. Photosynthesis removes free CO2 from the air and binds the carbon, releasing the oxygen. Any high school student can tell you this.

Every last ounce of CO2 coming out of your mouth, right now as you're reading this, was previously bound up as food, which was living tissue once, which (directly or indirectly) grew via taking CO2 out of the air. It's a closed cycle. Exhaling more CO2 will not result in a net increase in the carbon cycle.

Your tailpipe is different. The hydrocarbons you're burning come from fossil fuels, which have been sequestered from the atmosphere for the past few million years. Burning them does add a net amount of CO2 to the carbon cycle.

Climate change is not about what's in the air, it's about what's no longer in the ground. This is why Biofuels are a solution - the IC engine can be totally identical to one running on fossil fuels, but the hydrocarbons are grown rather than mined.

Re:Global warming? (1)

Ozlanthos (1172125) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656881)

Um forgive me if I am mistaken here, but weren't Ford's first automobiles designed to run on a bio-fuel derived from hemp-oil? If I am right here, couldn't we just go back to doing that? I think doing it on the scale required to fuel this country would keep a hell of a lot of people employed!

-Oz

Re:Global warming? (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656943)

Blame the cotton industry for getting hemp outlawed.

Re:Global warming? (1)

pitterpatter (1397479) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656995)

Ugh. I get tired of having to explain this. You'd think it'd stick the first dozen times or so, and I wouldn't have to keep repeating myself.

They say the definition of insanity is repeating the same action and expecting a different result. Your comment might say more about yourself than about your readership. :-D

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Re:Global warming? (1)

Eternauta3k (680157) | more than 5 years ago | (#28657061)

The CO2 from your breath is not the problem. The CO2 from your tailpipe is

I read this and started wondering at what point CO2 comes out of one's ass...

Your tailpipe is different. The hydrocarbons you're burning come from fossil fuels

fossil fuels!? Oh. Cars.

Re:Global warming? (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 5 years ago | (#28657031)

Mmmmm.... Penguin Burgers........ (drool)

Uh sir, do you want Walrus Fries with that?

Well... (4, Funny)

nebaz (453974) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656357)

I inhale cheeseburgers, I guess it would only be right to exhale them too.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28656575)

after that burger, sit on your couch and eat dessert while singing along to this. The pounds will melt away.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCoLTbbEmRU

Re:Well... (4, Insightful)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656709)

I inhale cheeseburgers, I guess it would only be right to exhale them too.

One of the fundamental principles of the fast food industry is that the "food" shouldn't require any chewing. Obvious, but only after some careful thought, but wildly successful.

The generic cheeseburger you inhale is constructed from greasy patties of frozen ground meat, a bun that lightly resembles bread, a thick viscous layer of an edible oil product colored to resemble cheese, and copious amounts of additional vegetable oil mixtures (using various combinations of egg products, corn syrup, and flavourings, colour, and gum) that keeps everything soft and wet.

Substitute one or more of the ingredients with the real or fresh versions, and I suspect you won't be able to inhale. Whether chewing is a feature, I'll leave to you to decide.

Re:Well... (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656909)

"I guess it would only be right to exhale them too."

So if biodiesel smells like french fries [nytimes.com] , does that mean my breath can always smell like french fries now? (without eating fries, of course)

obPublic Service Announcement (2, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656359)

It's a stunning and amazing medical breakthrough -- finally, people don't have to be fat! In other news, eating a well balanced diet, excercise, seen sulking in the corner for not being hip enough. Dr. House overheard saying "It's stuff like this that makes me want to not dangle anymore."

Re:obPublic Service Announcement (5, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656509)

It's a stunning and amazing medical breakthrough -- finally, people don't have to be fat! In other news, eating a well balanced diet, excercise, seen sulking in the corner for not being hip enough. Dr. House overheard saying "It's stuff like this that makes me want to not dangle anymore."

You know, I see this a lot when news that could help the obese comes along. I think it's a bit ignorant. First, would you have the same reaction if it similiar news (possible breakthrough) about compulsive gamblers, smokers, alcohilcs, hard drugs, or any other addiction? What about the debilitating OCD like Howard Hughs suffered or any mental disease really? I mean, buck it up and have some will power!

I know many fat people who go days on in eating less than a 120lb person, maybe even losing the weight, only to be broken by one binge and rapidly going back to their old ways. I don't think it's just a lack of willpower, a lot of it is unnatural. Domesticated animals also get fat when there's always food in the bowl. Maybe it's in our nature: for so many generation, the next meal was uncertain, grab it while you still can.

And then there are things like HFCS which adds to the problem. 100 years ago, regular chocolate was a real WEEKLY treat for an average kid, if at all, 300 years ago, sugar was kept in silver lockboxes due to expensive nature, now we have this crap swamping the area.

Imagine in 100 years VR really gets there. I mean really, they bypass your eyeballs, wired right into the brain, touch, feel, smell, everything. Instant orgasm. Imagine how many people will be addicted. Not just because they lack the will power, but the human animal gets exposed to stimuli that in turn rewards its basest and most powerful areas of the brain and we act holier-than-thou when people actually get hooked.

Food, for some people, is the overriding addiction that make other addictions fail. Any help they get is good. And Dr. House would know that.

Re:obPublic Service Announcement (3, Insightful)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656599)

I just don't believe in that whole "victim-of-the-modern-diet" argument so many fat people like to use as an excuse. I live in the same society, shop in the same stores, and I'm not fat. It's called self-control.
My mother has been at least 100 lbs overweight for many years. She insists she "hardly eats anything at all and just can't lose weight", but having been raised by her, I know better -- life with her is a non-stop cavalcade of food. Like all addicts, fat people lie.

Re:obPublic Service Announcement (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28656639)

I just don't believe in that whole "victim-of-the-modern-diet" argument so many fat people like to use as an excuse. I live in the same society, shop in the same stores, and I'm not fat. It's called self-control.

Anecdotal evidence. I know people that smoke 3 packs a day and don't get cancer therefore smoking doesn't cause cancer. I may be fat but at least I didn't fail logic.

Re:obPublic Service Announcement (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28656661)

Right Fatso, you just fail to control your own actions.
**smirk**

Re:obPublic Service Announcement (2, Interesting)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 5 years ago | (#28657007)

"I live in the same society, shop in the same stores, and I'm not fat. It's called self-control."

If that's what you believe then you fail at googling [google.com] .

Can a person who is genetically pre-disposed to be fat be skinny? Of course, I've seen biggest loser, but they'll have to workout 12 hours a day and eat less than 1300 calories to reach the same size other people take for granted.

And I'm very tired of skinny people going "I have self-control, you fat people don't". Um, no. I see your shopping carts skinny people, it's not stuffed with celery and carrots and spinach, it's the same thing as the fat people. And I see the skinny people buying pizzas and super-sized meals too. I've dated girls (on /.?? I know right?!) who could eat McD's 4 times a day and stay 112 lbs and never get off the couch, and other girls who ate vegetables and soup and gym 3 times a week and couldn't break 200 lbs.

I gained 60+ lbs recently. I stopped running 5 miles a day and stopped eating 2 lbs of spinach daily and ate "normal" food. That's all it took.

I will say this: if you're fat and you don't run 5 miles a day then don't whine "it's genetic, I can't help it". You can help it, you're just not trying. Until you can run 5 miles in a hour (12 minute miles, a slow run) everyday you can't say "I can't help being fat" because you're not even trying.

Re:obPublic Service Announcement (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656629)

Your point is well made, and quite important; but I don't think it goes quite far enough. Even if we did cling to the naive view of "willpower", so what? Is technology that makes life easier a bad thing? Why suffer when you can have your cake and eat it too?

Sure, you could avoid weight gain by eating your veggies and running a lot; but if you can have your steak and be slim too, why not? There is something really perverse and masochistic about opposition to this sort of tech(and masochism is fine, if that's your thing; but imposing it on others is a bit much). There are loads of situations where you could avoid consequences by "self control", or you could just use a little engineering. If I need dental work, should I skip the anesthetic and just suck it up? Why? Anesthetics are cheap and pain sucks. If my eyes aren't so good, should I just squint? Why? A few dollars worth of polycarbonate and some optical know-how will make my life substantially better. Should I refrain from sex unless I can deal with children? Why? Prophylactics are cheap and highly effective.

There are, certainly, some things that no amount of technology will compensate for, mostly because they are unethical; but in cases where the downsides of indulgence can be cleared up with a little engineering, advocating self-control instead is just puritanism. Perfectly fine to make the choice for yourself, or if you suffer the externalities; but damn perverse to impose on others.

Re:obPublic Service Announcement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28656893)

Maybe we should wait and see what debilitating side effects will be associated with this discovery, before we leap to conclusions about how all weak-willed people have some inalienable right to cheat nature? :)

Re:obPublic Service Announcement (2, Interesting)

tacarat (696339) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656653)

Packs of hungry wolves eating the sickly, old and too fat to run for their lives should be reintroduced into our cities. Save an endangered species and get human evolution back on track.

Re:obPublic Service Announcement (2, Insightful)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656731)

Feel free, but we get our guns.

Re:obPublic Service Announcement (1)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656777)

Unfortunately the corruption in government would turn this into "Running Man". Then you would have your tendons cut and put in the running line. Good luck.

Re:obPublic Service Announcement (3, Interesting)

Daemonax (1204296) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656665)

To paraphrase Abbie Hoffman.
Telling obese people to just stop eating and exercise is like telling manic-depressives to just cheer up.

Obesity is a predictable problem of placing humans in an environment with surplus food. We have evolved in an environment where food was not plentiful, and one of the best behavioural traits to have if you wanted to survive was to eat as much as you could when you could. That behavioural trait is now causing problems for many people.
Obesity is disgusting, but telling people that isn't going to solve the problem. Personally I wouldn't care one bit if taxes were increased (which would result in increased prices) for junk-food outlets like McDonalds and Burger King, it would hopefully limit the amount of shit that people eat, and would also be able to provide some funding for the massive costs that are going to be coming along very soon as obese and overweight people start requiring medical help.

According to an article on the BBC about a week ago, 44% of children in Mississippi are obese or overweight, that is disgusting and something needs to be done to fix this problem.

Apparently more than 25% of adults in my country, New Zealand, are obese. It is a serious problem, anything higher than 5% obesity in a population should be taken as a serious problem.

Re:obPublic Service Announcement (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656781)

Processed fast foods are already more expensive then healthy whole foods. Go to McD's and it costs $7 for a burger, fries and a drink. Now go down to the grocery store, and spend the same amount on food, and you could make a healthy dinner for a family of 4. Sure it would probable take longer to prepare, but it's definitely cheaper to eat when you prepare your own healthy food. You can get 3 lbs. of carrots for $2. Those 1 lbs. hungry man premade dinners cost a lot more than making your own dinner. I agree, that obesity is a big problem in our society. However, I don't think it's something that we can solve. Unless you give out food rations to each person, and have forced exercise, there isn't much you can do, short of educating them about the problems it will cause with their health. If somebody sees no problem with the way they are, or lacks the willpower to change their ways, then there isn't much you can do to help them.

Re:obPublic Service Announcement (4, Informative)

feepness (543479) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656753)

I know many fat people who go days on in eating less than a 120lb person, maybe even losing the weight, only to be broken by one binge and rapidly going back to their old ways.

That's because they are doing it wrong. They need to eat exactly what a person of their size should be eating or a teeny bit less, their body will naturally approach the correct weight with a bit of exercise thrown in. By going so they almost certainly binge because their body thinks it is starving.

Yes, this takes. It also works.

Re:obPublic Service Announcement (1)

Saysys (976276) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656759)

The lack of sympathy for over eaters is due to the fact that those who have experienced a temptation and not fallen do tend to be "holier-than-thou". Everyone eats, so everyone has been tempted, so everyone who did not get fat is, there for, literally, holier-than-thou.

Re:obPublic Service Announcement (1)

wrook (134116) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656775)

If the we developed a drug that allowed people to be thin while eating whatever they want, would that really help people who over eat? Surely this is treating just the symptom. They are still addicted.

Like you, I reject the idea that "will power" will help obese people improve their life. Changing your self is hard. You have to want to do it. You have to be able to imagine yourself as the person without the thing you are addicted to. And you have to be happy with that. Once you do that, will power is not an issue one way or another.

Helping people get thin does nothing to help them with their addiction.

Re:obPublic Service Announcement (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656841)

But if your addiction has no symptoms, is it a problem? Addictions aren't bad because they are intrinsically evil in some way, they are bad because they get in your way. If they no longer do that, who cares?

Re:obPublic Service Announcement (1)

Merls the Sneaky (1031058) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656953)

The obese people are also at a likely genetic disadvantage.

http://www.gghjournal.com/pdf/volume_19/19-4/ab4.pdf [gghjournal.com]

As for the willpower thing, look at it like this. A drug addict can simply avoid drugs they have no actual need for it they can stop cold turkey. If your addicted to food you can't avoid it. Its advertised all over the place, and you still have to partake every day. It's an uphill battle for them.

Re:obPublic Service Announcement (1)

Pollardito (781263) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656913)

I think it's difficult to differentiate those who have the problem because they refuse to exercise or moderate their eating, and those that have the problem despite taking those steps. It also has extra confusion due to the fact that there is such a wide range of weight problems, but people assume that the person who is carrying a lot of extra weight is just suffering an exaggerated version of the same problem that someone else who is only slightly overweight might have. Alcoholism has gotten more exposure recently, but there's still a lot of people who place most of the blame on the sufferer for that one too. Mitch Hedberg said it best:

"Alcoholism is a disease, but it's the only one you can get yelled at for having. Goddamn it Otto, you are an alcoholic. Goddamn it Otto, you have Lupis... one of those two doesn't sound right."

Re:obPublic Service Announcement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28656951)

This would not treat the psychological problem of food addiction. It would only treat one of the symptoms: being fat.

Fat - CO2? (1)

JordanL (886154) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656361)

And we thought global warming was bad before...

Re:Fat - CO2? (4, Informative)

Ibag (101144) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656491)

Why do people think that CO2 = bad? There is a natural carbon cycle. CO2 goes into the air, plants breath it in and breath out O2 while turning the carbon into sugar. Animals eat the plants (and other animals) and use the bonds in molecules containing carbon as a storage for energy. As they use the energy, the carbon goes back into the atmosphere. When things are in relative equilibrium, everything is fine.

The problem with fossil fuels is that there used to be a lot more carbon in the atmosphere, which was absorbed by plants which died and took the carbon with them. When we burn fossil fuels, we are re-releasing this carbon into the atmosphere, changing the balance of things. Except for deforestation and burning of fossil fuels, most other CO2 related activities don't actually change the overall amount of carbon in play. There is no need to be alarmist about this.

Re:Fat - CO2? (4, Insightful)

Slur (61510) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656723)

Back when there was significantly more CO2 in the atmosphere different forms of life predominated, and we have evolved during the relatively oxygen-rich period which followed the lengthy period of sequestration of CO2 in trees and underground petroleum.

The CO2 we have been increasingly releasing for the last century and a half is not counterbalanced at all because the number of woody trees which absorb CO2 is being significantly cut back at the same time.

The combination of these factors causes more heat energy to remain in the atmosphere, which means more kinetic energy. Thus we should see an increase in extreme weather, plus an increase in the amount of heat flowing to the polar regions.

As CO2 and heat increase there will be a corresponding increase in the amount of gaseous H2O in the atmosphere, which is also a heat-trapping molecule. Thus we should expect to see an increase in the number of hurricanes and large-scale storms.

What is most feared is a runaway greenhouse effect, in which there simply isn't enough re-uptake of CO2 to counterbalance the domino effect, thus heat and kinetic energy keep going up and up. Ocean levels will most certainly rise, and at an increasing rate, which will lead to the increasing loss of coastal regions, large-scale loss of property, displacement of millions of people throughout the world, and various related crises.

Certainly no one needs to be alarmist, but it is clear that we need to find some solution to regain a reasonable balance, and to do what we can right now. And the most effective thing we can do to slow this trend is alter our behavior and encourage others to do the same.

Re:Fat - CO2? (1)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656973)

What is most feared is a runaway greenhouse effect, in which there simply isn't enough re-uptake of CO2 to counterbalance the domino effect, thus heat and kinetic energy keep going up and up. Ocean levels will most certainly rise, and at an increasing rate, which will lead to the increasing loss of coastal regions, large-scale loss of property, displacement of millions of people throughout the world, and various related crises.

Actually, the absolute worst case effect is if the increase in temperature & acidification of the oceans causes all of the methane hydrate stored at depth in the oceans to be released all at once (where methane is 100x more effective at causing greenhouse effects than CO2). There is some historical evidence that indicates that this [geotimes.org] has occurred in the past, and is correlated with mass extinction events (although the article that I linked to seems to be a little skeptical.

Re:Fat - CO2? (1)

sco08y (615665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656827)

Except for deforestation and burning of fossil fuels, most other CO2 related activities don't actually change the overall amount of carbon in play.

And this one, specifically, wouldn't because the amount of energy stored in fat is trivial compared to the energy burnt by an organism over its lifetime. The simplest math is to compare your lifespan of 70 years vs. your fat reserves of a few weeks.

If anything, this would be a (trivial) net gain since you'd be burning less energy hauling that fat around with you.

Re:Fat - CO2? (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656529)

Those that don't understand the carbon cycle are doomed to... uh... make stupid comments about global warming, I guess.

Re:Fat - CO2? (1)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656809)

Those that don't understand the carbon cycle are doomed to... uh...

...die from the effects of benzene poisoning.

Woohoo (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28656363)

...

Pfft, that's nothing. (4, Funny)

fryjs (1456943) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656385)

Politicians have been exhaling excrement for centuries.

New Diet Pills! (4, Funny)

PumpkinDog (1253988) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656391)

The slogan writes itself "Don't Hold Your Breath"

oh no! more CO2 from fat americans :-) (0, Flamebait)

cpotoso (606303) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656397)

oh no! more CO2 from fat americans :-)

second-hand fat ... (4, Funny)

BenBoy (615230) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656403)

... just sayin'

And yeah, I know it's CO2 ... you want a global-warming joke instead, *you* make it.

But how would this be deployed? (5, Interesting)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656409)

Is this something that has to be engineered into an organism, or can it be applied after-market? From the sounds of it, it's a genetic splice and not something easily applied to preexisting organisms. TFA doesn't seem to say. Anyone know? Great news for the fatties of tomorrow, but what about the porkers of today?

Re:But how would this be deployed? (1)

telomerewhythere (1493937) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656569)

The last sentence seems to indicate the scientists involved believe that it could be done to us.

However, genetic alteration using the glyoxylate shunt may one day offer a solution to the major medical problems, early death, and rising health care costs associated with obesity

Also note how they introduced the genes to the mice:

The research team then introduced the genes into the livers of mice.

But this seems like risky behavior, as they used a gene that converts fat to sugar, however it converts fat to CO2 in the mice. What else is it doing that it doesn't do in the bacteria and plant seeds? Maybe nothing....

Mary Shelley's Genetic Frankenstein?

Frankenstein (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28656673)

Frankenstein tried to create a Human, and he nearly succeded.

These Folks create something artifical, like Chimera, or the Beast from the Book of Revelation

Re:But how would this be deployed? (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656623)

Well, it certainly gives all the insulting arrogant assholes something to talk about, now doesn't it?

Re:But how would this be deployed? (1)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656725)

Ah, but I can talk like that about chubby people 'cus I'm one of them! I'm not too sensitive about it, and I take my size in good stride. ;) Doesn't mean I wouldn't mind an 'easy' way to shed some kilos, though.

Re:But how would this be deployed? (2, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656675)

I would wonder if some people already have these organisms as part of their bacteria in their body. If these organisms that convert fat to CO2 were already present in your digestive system, you could just get them to do the work for you.

Re:But how would this be deployed? (1)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656737)

It's a fair idea, and I've thought about something similar before - something like an artificial organism that could live in the blood and consume free glucose, thus leading to a release of glucagon and lipolysis. I could never figure out how this might be achieved, though.

Re:But how would this be deployed? (1)

Surye (580125) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656903)

Well, they talked about introducing the genes to the liver. And people can have liver transplants. And we can grow livers. Sounds like aftermarket possibilities. Even if not the liver, some effective organ.

Re:But how would this be deployed? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 5 years ago | (#28657041)

Dont think that this genetic changes could be done without replacing or growing your liver. And growing... probably means that is not for you (at least not until we have the tech to artifically growing livers et al), but for your still unborn children (or clone). And then comes all the debate about designing your children, like choosing eye color, eliminating potential genetic diseases and so on. This is just a bit more extreme, but fits in the description

Is Carbon Sequestration.. (1)

Dragonshed (206590) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656417)

.. the next logical step? Can't wait to see the day where global warming is not only caused by cars but by exhaling our fat asses.

Re:Is Carbon Sequestration.. (4, Informative)

bunratty (545641) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656573)

The problem with cars running on gasoline is that the carbon in the carbon dioxide they emit used to be stored deep underground. Once it is emitted into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, about half of it will remain for hundreds of years, thus increasing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

This is as opposed to the carbon in the carbon dioxide you exhale, which came from plants. The plants got the carbon from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Thus, exhaling carbon dioxide does not cause a increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The carbon cycle... learn it, live it, love it!

Re:Is Carbon Sequestration.. (1)

feepness (543479) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656845)

Modern farming uses fertilizer which is created from... you guessed it... fossil fuels.

Fat Air (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28656419)

Great... and then this "fat air" condenses out, and you're left with chubby rain, all over again.

Carbon credits? (2, Funny)

j-turkey (187775) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656423)

So will mice taking this fat-to-CO2 drug have to pay for extra carbon credits? ;P

How to stop? (4, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656441)

So what happens when you're thin enough? How do you avoid going down to dangerously low amounts of stored fat?

Do genetic modifications go away on their own over time, or do they propagate as the affected cells divide?

Re:How to stop? (1)

adminstring (608310) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656511)

Your post brings to mind the Stephen King novel Thinner [wikipedia.org] .

Re:How to stop? (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656525)

So what happens when you're thin enough? How do you avoid going down to dangerously low amounts of stored fat?

You start ordering supersize. How do you think you got the fat in in the first place?

Re:How to stop? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656855)

So what happens when you're thin enough? How do you avoid going down to dangerously low amounts of stored fat?

Bacon party!!! Sign me up.

The purpose of Fat (5, Insightful)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656523)

The purpost of fat is to ensure an organism survives when there is not enough food, and in worst case, during famine.

During most of the history of the human species, famine has been inevitable and greatly lethal.

Those humans who can best gain the most fat in the shortest amount of time, are most likely to survive - they are superior than the naturally thin people who are the first to die during famine.

'Curing' people of the ability to gain fat would be severely detremental to the species ability to survive as a whole, outside of specific cases as stated in the article, such as disease or specific genetic conditions.

Re:The purpose of Fat (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656561)

Right. And 'curing' people of bad eyesight is bad for the species need to be able to see prey.

We're in a whole new range of ecological niches, and modifying both our environment and our bodies to match it is evolution in its most obvious form.

Re:The purpose of Fat (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656611)

Bad eyesight does not increase a human being's ability to survive in difficult survival conditions.

Bodyfat, however, does.

Re:The purpose of Fat (3, Insightful)

tacarat (696339) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656669)

Didn't we just have a discussion about how beer goggles being the only way some people get to breed? Bad eyesight does the same thing, but without the hangover later.

Re:The purpose of Fat (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656823)

I'm in agreement with MrMista for I don't look at what society will be like in the next 100 years, but rather the next 10,000 and beyond. You see, in 100 years we may have replicators and teleportation. But in the next 10,000, WWIII may have came and went leaving all of what's left of humanity with sticks and stones. Do we really want to risk further damage to the human race (possible extinction) by removing core survival mechanisms? By then it may be too late to re-acquire the knowledge to undo the modifications of the past.

We play a very dangerous game with the human species by playing with our DNA makeup. And unlike our plants and crop seeds, we don't have a Svalbard doomsday vault to restore lost genetic code (that I know of).

Re:The purpose of Fat (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656563)

Really. Fat serves purpose - stores energy for later use, insulates in cold, and is essential to produce those feel-good brain chemicals. The problem you fat asses have with fat is entirely a problem of you being a lazy, do-nothing, sit-on-yo-ass-all-day fat ass, fat ass!

Re:The purpose of Fat (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656625)

On the other hand, if this is something that could be turned on and off at will, it has a *great deal* of therapeutic value.

Re:The purpose of Fat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28656727)

Obesity is a far greater killer than famine in the Western world.
Environments change, and organisms within those environments change with them. In a niche with plentiful food and very rare famines, this modification wouldn't be 'severely detrimental.' I'm not sure I'd call it 'curing,' but the change isn't bad. It's an adaptation to the new environment in which we live. And as technology advances ever faster, along with our ability to control our environment, artificial genetic mutation isn't necessarily a bad thing if natural selection can't keep up. It's extremely dangerous, of course, but many new technologies are.

Feh. (2, Funny)

bobdotorg (598873) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656553)

Wake me up when they figure out how to make them exhale beer.

I could go for a cold MausBraü about now.

Up Soon (-1, Flamebait)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656567)

Researchers teach their fat fucking mice to eat less and exercise.

We already know the "cure" for obesity. We just lack the will to apply it.

Horror movies (2, Interesting)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656643)

Once some screenwriter or movie company gets a hold of this story/idea, we are in for a slew of new, badly thought out horror movies. Something like the "Resident Evil" trilogy crossed with mummies. Wonderful.

That's a lot of CO2! (2, Interesting)

sco08y (615665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656711)

Using random values from the web, CO2 is 1.9769 g/L, and human body fat is 900.7 g/L. So the fat is going to expand about 500 times before it gets out of the body.

With Olestra, people were shocked, shocked, that you'd get runny shits if a fatty substance passed through your body undigested. My prediction: if this takes off, life will imitate art. [youtube.com]

Not news. (2, Insightful)

lindseyp (988332) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656717)

Scientists just figured this out?

I eat a varied and balanced diet which does include a portion of fat.
I am not putting on weight.

When I cycle to work, where does the carbon dioxide that I exhale come from?

So what? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28656735)

Humans can already metabolize fat into CO2. This is called aerobic metabolism... high school biology anyone? Every time you breathe out, that CO2 is coming from carbohydrates, fat, and proteins.

The article said nothing about breaking down fat to CO2 without providing caloric energy. Now that would be impressive. This is just shunting fatty acids down a different metabolic pathway, that ends in the same product. Physics dictates that they still have to release the same amount of energy to get there, and guess what that energy is? Calories!

Re:So what? (5, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656861)

There are, actually, ways of causing the body to break down food without providing ATP(by interfering with oxidative phosphorylation in your mitochondria), instead producing heat, which allows extremely efficient weight loss. 2,4-Dinitrophenol was used back in the '30s for the purpose. Unfortunately, if you get the dose wrong, the hyperthermia will fuck you up quite efficiently. Not recommended.

Except that fat is not the problem... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28656747)

The human body is in essence a fat-burning machine. It is made to burn fat, and fat is its most efficient, most safest form of energy. As a coincidence it can also handle pure sugars and carbs (which break down to sugars) by secreting insulin into the bloodstream when carbs/sugars are ingested. When insulin enters the bloodstream, two things happen: Firstly, the body's lipolysis stops (the breaking-down of fat), resulting in the body stopping its burning of your fat reserves, and instead starts storing the fat you ingested (ever had a "pasta diet" for a longer while and noticed the effect of it?). Secondly, the insulin (and not the sugar) results in the familiar increased heart activity (and sometimes palpitations) that come from sugar ingestion, which is a contributing factor to reduced cardiac health. Last of all, stressful production of insulin due a diet overly rich in carbs or sugars, as known since long, increases the risk of developing diabetes - simply put, a burned out pancreas.

Carbs/sugars are the catalysts for storing fat instead of burning it. The problem is solved by reducing your carb/sugar intake, and replacing that energy amount by a fat intake.

Re:Except that fat is not the problem... (1)

thethibs (882667) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656987)

Right on. I don't know what these guys think they've found (RTFA is no help) but converting fat into CO2 is what our bodies do normally.

Check out the Citric Acid Cycle: "In aerobic organisms, the citric acid cycle is part of a metabolic pathway involved in the chemical conversion of carbohydrates, fats and proteins into carbon dioxide and water to generate a form of usable energy."

A minor point you missed: by the time they hit your blood stream, sugars and starches have all been converted into sugar.

Another is that yes, your body does need some glucose, but it can easily synthesize what it needs. There's no such thing as an essential starch or sugar.

TinyMCE (1)

pi865 (1434123) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656863)

gives new meaning to TinyMCE

Exhale only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28656939)

Let me fart out the CO2 and you have a deal!

Something else to blame.... (1)

ZonkerWilliam (953437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28656997)

Now we have those little fat bastiges to blame for global warming.

Brilliant! (1)

naz404 (1282810) | more than 5 years ago | (#28657045)

now all we need is for scientists to discover a way to turn humans into mice! :D
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