The obesity / intelligence feedback loop and how to stop it

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Question: Are there feedback mechanisms between obesity and low intelligence? That is, does obesity contribute to low intelligence, and does low intelligence contribute to obesity?

And if such feedback mechanisms exist, what are the economics implications?

Here are extracts from articles exploring the issues:

A mother’s weight during pregnancy can shape her child’s mental and physical health.
Laura Bell, Science News, January 23, 2016, p. 22

Elinor Sullivan, a postdoctoral fellow at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland fed macaque monkeys regular chow, (while) other macaques dined American-style, with a hefty 32 percent of calories from fat and ready access to peanut butter treats. Over time, the second group of monkeys grew noticeably fatter.

Then they all had babies.

Sullivan noticed odd behavior in the plump moms’ offspring. At playtime, they often slinked off by themselves. When handled by keepers, the infants tended to vocalize anxiously, and the males became aggressive. They were prone to repetitive habits, like pacing.

In their carefully controlled world, the only difference between those monkeys and others at the facility was their mothers’ extra pounds and indulgent diet. The behavior was so striking that Sullivan changed the course of her research.

“It made me start thinking about human children,” and the twin epidemics of obesity and behavioral problems such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Her research noted that the progeny of female monkeys eating a high-fat diet were more likely to experience altered brain development and suffer anxiety.

Not long after, researchers worldwide began compiling evidence linking the heaviness of human mothers to mental health in their children.

One headline-grabbing study of more than 1,000 births, reported in 2012, found that autism spectrum disorders showed up more often in children of obese mothers than in normal-weight women (SN: 5/19/12, p. 16).

Over the course of a generation, obesity (defined as a body mass index of 30 or higher) rates among U.S. women have soared.

More than 1/3 of U.S. women are obese. More than 1/2 of reproductive age women are obese. More than 8 percent of reproductive-age women are extremely obese. Source: ACOG

Summary: An increased number of American women of childbearing age are obese. The children of obese mothers have an increased likelihood of behavioral problems, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, altered brain development and autism, and both obesity and brain-related problems are epidemic.

Excess weight can inflame the immune system, upset the balance of hormones and even alter the microbial flora tucked inside the intestine. If shared by the fetus, any or all of these changes can affect the baby’s development. Further complicating matters, the fetus is probably being exposed to the effects of fattening, and perhaps inflammatory, foods.

One study published in 2013 in the journal BMJ analyzed medical records of more than 37,000 people born in Scotland between 1950 and 1976. After accounting for socioeconomic status, gender, weight at birth and many other variables, the researchers found that children born to obese mothers had a 35 percent higher mortality rate from birth to 2012.

“Independent of birth weight, a child can grow up with increased blood pressure, obesity and risk of diabetes,” Lucilla Poston, head of the division of women’s health at King’s College London, says.

One study published in 2015 even raises the possibility that a child’s normal cognitive development might be slightly impaired by mom’s high BMI.

Excess fat causes inflammation, which has an adverse effect on brain development.

Even after accounting for socioeconomic status, gender, and weight at birth, children born to obese mothers had a 35 percent higher mortality rate.

In the United States, obesity disproportionately affects low income and minority women. Children born in less affluent neighborhoods face more stress, heightened exposure to pollutants and less access to wholesome foods.

Given the correlation of obesity with poverty, children of obese parents also might have educational disadvantages.

That said, the latest studies attempt to overcome those biases. And they still find reason for concern. Lisa Bodnar, a nutritional epidemiologist at the University of Pittsburgh, describes a “small but growing literature” suggesting that obesity in a mother is associated with lower cognition and other mental health challenges in children.

In November 2015, Sullivan and colleagues reviewed the evidence in Hormones and Behavior, making the grim prediction that, given persistent rates of obesity and pervasiveness of high-calorie foods, “the prevalence of neurodevelopmental and mental health disorders will continue to rise in future generations.”

“We think of obesity as the state of chronic inflammation,” Sullivan says. “Many of the neurotransmitters in the brain are very sensitive [to inflammation] in early development.”

“When you consider the spectrum of conditions that have been linked to maternal obesity,” says immunologist Ilhem Messaoudi of the University of California, Riverside, “one of the things that links all these diseases is inflammation.”

Child’s possible mental health risks from mother’s obesity:
–Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
–Autism spectrum disorder
–Food addiction
–Cognitive impairment

Source: H.M. Rivera, K.J. Christiansen and E.L. Sullivan/Front. Neurosci. 2015

Overweight mothers tend to raise children who grow up to be overweight themselves, and excessive weight gain during pregnancy, especially in the first months, is also linked to her child’s obesity risk.

With little sign that the obesity epidemic is abating this generation’s greatest health threat could leave an unexpected legacy.

In September, a team of Australian researchers reported on a mouse experiment that found the offspring of two obese parents fared worse than if either parent alone was obese.

Obesity has many causes, including physical, psychological and environmental. Some of these causes seem related to one’s parents, either via heredity or via home environment.

In plain English, fat parents tend to have fat kids, and fat kids have a greater tendency to be mentally challenged. (Note the words “tend” and “tendency.” There are numerous exceptions.)

With more than 1/2 of reproductive age women being obese: The number of obese children will increase as will the number of mentally challenged children and adults.

Low intelligence causes obesity? What research shows

Experts say a controversial new study adds to a growing body of evidence linking low intelligence to weight problems. It shows that men who score low on IQ tests in adolescence are more likely to be overweight in middle age.

Researchers in Sweden compared the waist-hip ratios of more than 5,000 40-year-old men to their scores on IQ tests taken when they were around 18 years of age. The researchers found a strong inverse relationship between the ratios, which scientists use to gauge obesity and heart disease risk.

The fattest men had the lowest IQ scores.

The study’s author, Uppsala University’s Dr. Jerzy Leppert, said men with limited “intelligence resources” might find it hard “to absorb all the messages that reach them. Their parents usually have the same problem with low IQ, which further limits their ability to adopt more healthy way of life.”

Less-intelligent people make poorer food choices, Dr. Robert H. Eckel, professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School Medicine, told CBS News.

More statistics:

The greater your weight, the lower your IQ, say scientists

A new five-year study of more than 2,200 adults claims to have found a link between obesity and the decline in a person’s cognitive function.

The researchers found that people with a Body Mass Index – a measure of body fat – of 20 or less could recall 56 per cent of words in a vocabulary test, while those who were obese, with a BMI of 30 or higher, could remember only 44 per cent.

The fatter subjects also showed a higher rate of cognitive decline when they were retested five years later: their recall dropped to 37.5 per cent, whereas those with a healthy weight retained their level of recall.

And then there is the relationship between low intelligence and poverty. While logically, low intelligence might doom people to low-paying jobs and poverty, there is ample evidence that poverty can doom people to low intelligence:

Poverty and Intelligence

The study suggests that being under financial burden tends to put mental stress on the subjects; which in turn leaves them unable to think properly, or perform as well as they could have in an optimal situation.

Being under such duress all the time, near constantly, would obvious affect the day-to-day mental performance of the poor. In such cases, it becomes near impossible for the poor to rise out of poverty based only on their meager earnings and external pressure.

Several feedback mechanisms are in place.

1. Fat women and men will rear fat children, who themselves will rear fat children.

2. Fat children have more than average mental problems, and these problems will lead to poorer food choices and more obesity.

3. Mental problems can cause poverty and poverty can cause mental problems.

Obesity, poverty and mental problems all are related, with each tending to increase the other two.

More than half of reproductive-age women are obese and have a greater tendency to rear obese children who are mentally challenged. If this pattern continues worldwide, the human species will continue to divide into the “haves” and the “have-nots.”

The “haves” will increase their comparative physical and mental health, power and wealth.

The Gap will widen until there is no middle class at all. The world will be divided into royal princes and their slave paupers.

That is the direction we are headed.

Is there a way to intervene and cut off the feedback mechanism?

Yes. Institute the Ten Steps to Prosperity.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty


Ten Steps to Prosperity:
1. Eliminate FICA (Click here)
2. Federally funded Medicare — parts A, B & D plus long term nursing care — for everyone (Click here)
3. Provide an Economic Bonus to every man, woman and child in America, and/or every state a per capita Economic Bonus. (Click here) Or institute a reverse income tax.
4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone. Click here
5. Salary for attending school (Click here)
6. Eliminate corporate taxes (Click here)
7. Increase the standard income tax deduction annually Click here
8. Tax the very rich (.1%) more, with higher, progressive tax rates on all forms of income. (Click here)
9. Federal ownership of all banks (Click here and here)

10. Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99% (Click here)

The Ten Steps will grow the economy, and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and you.

10 Steps to Economic Misery: (Click here:)
1. Maintain or increase the FICA tax..
2. Spread the myth Social Security, Medicare and the U.S. government are insolvent.
3. Cut federal employment in the military, post office, other federal agencies.
4. Broaden the income tax base so more lower income people will pay.
5. Cut financial assistance to the states.
6. Spread the myth federal taxes pay for federal spending.
7. Allow banks to trade for their own accounts; save them when their investments go sour.
8. Never prosecute any banker for criminal activity.
9. Nominate arch conservatives to the Supreme Court.
10. Reduce the federal deficit and debt

No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth. Monetary Sovereignty: Cutting federal deficits to grow the economy is like applying leeches to cure anemia.
1. A growing economy requires a growing supply of dollars (GDP=Federal Spending + Non-federal Spending + Net Exports)
2. All deficit spending grows the supply of dollars
3. The limit to federal deficit spending is an inflation that cannot be cured with interest rate control.
4. The limit to non-federal deficit spending is the ability to borrow.


Recessions begin an average of 2 years after the blue line first dips below zero. A common phenomenon is for the line briefly to dip below zero, then rise above zero, before falling dramatically below zero. There was a brief dip below zero in 2015, followed by another dip – the familiar pre-recession pattern.
Recessions are cured by a rising red line.

Monetary Sovereignty

Vertical gray bars mark recessions.

As the federal deficit growth lines drop, we approach recession, which will be cured only when the growth lines rise. Increasing federal deficit growth (aka “stimulus”) is necessary for long-term economic growth.


Mitchell’s laws:
•Those, who do not understand the differences between Monetary Sovereignty and monetary non-sovereignty, do not understand economics.
•Any monetarily NON-sovereign government — be it city, county, state or nation — that runs an ongoing trade deficit, eventually will run out of money.
•The more federal budgets are cut and taxes increased, the weaker an economy becomes..

Liberals think the purpose of government is to protect the poor and powerless from the rich and powerful. Conservatives think the purpose of government is to protect the rich and powerful from the poor and powerless.

•The single most important problem in economics is the Gap between rich and the rest..
•Austerity is the government’s method for widening
the Gap between rich and poor.
•Until the 99% understand the need for federal deficits, the upper 1% will rule.
•Everything in economics devolves to motive, and the motive is the Gap between the rich and the rest..


4 thoughts on “The obesity / intelligence feedback loop and how to stop it

  1. Be very careful about which fat is being discussed. I think we all recognise trans fats as bad, but so are all the polyunsaturated fats wth a high omega 6 to omega 3 ratio, generically named as vegetable oils. The obesity inducing western diet has this ratio as high as 30:1. The right ratio is 2:1.
    Then there is the quite wrong stigmatism of saturated fats. This is now being reversed and eating a diet high in saturated fat does not necessarily lead to obesity. The monounsaturated Olive and avocado oils are good too, except that in the USA 69% of extra virgin Olive oils are fake.
    Good old vested interests at work again!!!


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