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Metabolic Consequences of Obesity

WALTER M. BORTZ, M.D., F.A.C.P.
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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Ann Intern Med. 1969;71(4):833-843. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-71-4-833
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SUMMARY:

The obese individual is obviously different from his lean counterpart. He is different physically and constitutionally. It has been widely speculated that some of the metabolic changes seen in the obese may be causally significant in the production of the obesity.

Recent work requires a review of the metabolic alterations seen in obesity. Such review indicates characteristic change in hormone activities and substrate levels in obesity. Further refined studies have indicated more precise details of the turnover and oxidative behavior of the metabolites—and their intimate interrelationships.

This report interprets the composite literature on this subject to indicate that the obese individual, in the fed circumstances, is primed for starvation. That is, his metabolic adaptations are such as to make him more capable of withstanding the abrupt withdrawal of food. Such an inference has teleologic implications.

Furthermore, it is felt that the alterations in metabolic behavior seen in obesity are resultants and not causal determinants of it.

Topics

obesity

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