The statement, frequently encountered, that obesity is merely the expression of an excess of intake of food over the bodily expenditures, is far from satisfactory to a critical student of the subject. There are at least a few obese persons who are fairly active in their habits and frugal in their diets; these, Du Bois1 remarks, furnish us with the true problem of obesity. A question that obviously presents itself in this connection concerns the basal metabolism of the aberrant types. Do they differ from the normal by carrying out their fundamental exchange of energy more economically? This has been a question not easily answered, because of the difficulties of making tenable comparisons between the different persons concerned.
The obese carry a considerable amount of inactive adipose tissue in their bodies. Consequently, if the metabolism per unit of weight were used as a standard of comparison, the fat person
HEREDITY AND OBESITY. JAMA. 1926;86(8):554. doi:10.1001/jama.1926.02670340032013