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Could Studying Canines Help People Lose Weight?

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Both nationally and internationally, obesity is considered to be a major public health crisis. It’s no different when it comes to our pets, either, as statistics indicate that pet obesity is on a steady rise for the last couple of years. But what is the reason behind the consistent weight increase? A recent study reveals that dogs might hold the answers that could help both species lose weight.

The saying “like owner, like dog” might be worn out, but it certainly rings true, especially in light of new findings. A team of Hungarian scientists reinforced the idea when they published the results of their study, focused on overweight dogs and their behavior. The team analyzed how fat dogs react in different situations related to food, and quickly realized that their behavior is uncannily similar to that of people who are overweight.

In a series of tests, dogs were offered two types of meals: one was high-quality, tasty food, whereas other would either an empty bowl or a portion of less delicious kibble. The handlers instructed their pooches to wait for the second bowl, so they could sniff out all of their options and choose the best one. Contrary to what the scientists thought would happen, chubby pooches started disobeying their owners and just ate whatever came first- they were unwilling to risk it for the potential of a big, yummy meal. The dogs who were within normal weight limits did as they were instructed

This type of behavior- preference towards energy-dense foods and unwillingness to invest effort if a reward in food was uncertain- are quite similar to some parallel findings in studies done on overweight humans. While there are, obviously, a lot of factors that make dogs and people different, scientists believe that dogs could prove to be a promising model for studying obesity in humans. Until then, the only way pooches can help us shed a few pounds is with long walks or hikes in nature- so if you need to lose some winter fluff, grab that leash and get going!


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