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Today Ranker.com had a surprisingly long list of Hollywood actors who went from thin and beautiful to fat and, you know, not so beautiful. I was brooding over those paired images on my way to a Sunday morning meeting, and comparing their plight to some research done during World War Two on the human response to starvation. The research was done on some Conscientious Objectors, who as their public service “volunteered” to go hungry for several months on a 1500 calorie diet. The experiment was done to better understand how to treat the Europeans who were about to be liberated from the Nazis. There were millions of people who were in advanced conditions of starvation, and this research probably saved many from dying.

What struck me, as I drove along, was the remembrance that there had been no followup on those starved American soldiers after they had been fed enough to return to their normal weight. Some went immediately from the 1500 calorie diet to one of 2000, some to 2500, and some to 3000 calorie diets. They were tracked until they returned to their normal weight. At that time the experiment ended for the given experimental subject, and the results applied to reintroducing food to Europeans to help them return to a normal diet.

Here’s the problem. Some sixty years later someone thought to revisit those experimental subjects to find out how their lives had progressed after the experiment had ended. By that time many of those who could be discovered had died, which was to be expected after so great a length of time, but the astonishing discovery was that many of these healthy young men had become obese later in life. What struck me was the possibility that the same processes that made these soldiers obese was the cause of the Hollywood cuties ballooning out. It might go something like this.

To maintain the physical beauty required of movie and TV stars it is necessary to remain as trim and muscular as possible. To maintain their perfect appearance actors must diet and exercise a lot, and that gets emotionally draining after a few years. Thus, when their career ends, and they don’t need to maintain their grueling regime they start eating, but their natural fatostat has been saying for years, “eat more”. Without their employment being dependent on a fabulous appearance they begin eating what feels like a normal amount. Just eat reasonably would be their attitude, and don’t worry about gaining a little weight, but without noticing it at first they take in more calories than they are putting out. Eating only a reasonable amount more, and exercising a whole lot less, and the difference between input of energy and output brings on a continuous accumulation of stored energy, now seen as fat.

It is sad for these people that, because they feel they are not eating enough, their non-conscious body is telling them to eat more because it remembers the years of hunger. The body is responding to the need to protect itself from experiencing famine the only way it knows how. Eat all you can get! And the famine victim’s only counter is the conscious effort to stop eating when everyone around them is eating, and that is near impossible.

Getting obese is an occupational hazard of the beautiful people.