To gain insights into human obesity, Dr. Kevin Corbit has turned to a rather unique source - grizzly bears.
Dr. Kevin Corbit, after watching tv and wondering how Yogi Bear stayed in shape while eating all those picnic baskets, was inspired to get to the bottom of the mystery.
He also was interested in gaining insights into human obesity, but the cartoon character led him to experimenting with a unique research subject – grizzly bears.
A particular focus of Corbit and his team is how it is that the bear can avoid health risks while bulking up for hibernation.
Prior to their long winter naps, grizzlies pack on up to a hundred pounds and do so by exceeding their typical daily intake of up to 60 thousand calories.
After taking blood samples, heart rate readings, and biopsies to measure fat deposits, Corbit and his team learned that bears have an automatic insulin sensitivity switch.
When they’re trying to put on pounds, their bodies are more sensitive to it. When they’re hibernating, their insulin response mechanisms shut off completely.
Corbit has established that bears and human respond to excess weight gain differently. Next, he hopes to map the grizzly’s genome to gain insights into why that is.