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A proposed potential role for increasing atmospheric CO2 as a promoter of weight gain and obesity

Authors
Journal
Nutrition and Diabetes
2044-4052
Publisher
Nature Publishing Group
Publication Date
Volume
2
Issue
3
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1038/nutd.2012.2
Keywords
  • Short Communication
Disciplines
  • Ecology
  • Geography

Abstract

Human obesity has evolved into a global epidemic. Interestingly, a similar trend has been observed in many animal species, although diet composition, food availability and physical activity have essentially remained unchanged. This suggests a common factor—potentially an environmental factor affecting all species. Coinciding with the increase in obesity, atmospheric CO2 concentration has increased more than 40%. Furthermore, in modern societies, we spend more time indoors, where CO2 often reaches even higher concentrations. Increased CO2 concentration in inhaled air decreases the pH of blood, which in turn spills over to cerebrospinal fluids. Nerve cells in the hypothalamus that regulate appetite and wakefulness have been shown to be extremely sensitive to pH, doubling their activity if pH decreases by 0.1 units. We hypothesize that an increased acidic load from atmospheric CO2 may potentially lead to increased appetite and energy intake, and decreased energy expenditure, and thereby contribute to the current obesity epidemic.

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