I don’t know about you, but I have a constant battle with my weight – I’m not huge or anything but it goes up and down like a yo-yo; somehow me and my body continually disagree with what we want. Are some of us genetically pre-disposed to eating at any cost? With a lack of food, would these same people turn to cannibalism? In The Walking Dead they looked at this exact situation – but is it very likely or simply a nightmarish scenario? Initially I saw the cannibal episodes as a sheer gratuitous effort to improve ratings, ’cos let’s face it the story was flagging quite a bit up to that point.
In the UK we have just had a four part series televised on the nature of gaining weight and what drives the fact that more and more of us are getting seriously obese. They looked at factors such as will power and genetic markers that make us want to eat more or perhaps store more fat (for that rainy day). I’ll say from the start that it was not about apportioning blame away from the individual, in fact it was putting more responsibility onto the individual to take control. The individual was being empowered through the understanding as to why they wanted to eat more than they needed. Maybe by running this programme they will have saved us from at least one cannibal.
The programme was a BBC production called “What’s The Right Diet For You? A Horizon Special.” Frankly, if you have a weight issue you want to conquer then I would seriously suggest you watch it. Even with my biological degree I could not get my head around exactly why the need to eat for its own sake came from – I assumed it was a will power and learned response issue. These guys opened it up quite objectively. They did tend to pad it out a little but are not as patronising as some programmes I’ve watched in the past.
Anyway, back to the subject: Cannibalism – are some of us pre-disposed to it?
According to this diet programme there is a group of eaters called Constant Cravers. It is believed that they do not create enough of a protein called Leptin. This protein is released by fat cells to tell the brain that enough fat has been stored and normal metabolism can be resumed. Without this substance being produced in sufficient quantities the brain never gets an accurate picture of the situation, causing constant food craving. What’s worse is that during these tests this craving became so intense when left unsated that at least one of the test subjects began crying out of pure frustration. Would he have eventually eaten human flesh if offered it? Is this the origin of cannibalism?
Question: if you were stranded on a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean and one of your fellow survivors was a constant craver, would you be able to get any sleep? Every time you woke up he or she would be staring at you in adoration and lust. Be careful not to mistake it for affection, and if you disagree with them do not ever use the expression ‘bite me’.
On a more serious note, coming back to whether The Walking Dead had a realistic story line, if you assume livestock was in relatively short supply at this stage of post-apocalypse, then it is not out of the question that if an Alpha Male Constant Craver existed, this scenario might come to pass. A constant supply of fresh meat would be their preferred diet as protein eaten slowly has a higher ability to sate the brain. Taking the idea further, could this be the driver to cannibal tribes? Small protein food stocks lead to cannibalism and a feeling of longer-term satisfaction. It is even likely that this satisfaction feeling might cause a form of reverence and before you know it a religious fervour for cannibalism has developed to the eating of our fellow man.
Here’s a thought – in The Walking Dead all they did to turn us into cannibals was to get us to emulate the Zombies – after all they eat human flesh as a way of life.
Books by the Author – available worldwide on all good eBook stores:
The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle (first in Trilogy)
The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle – Cabin Fever (second in Trilogy)
The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle – Dez Rez (third in Trilogy)
The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle Trilogy – three books in one
Return Of A King: A Zombie Chronicle (first in trilogy)
Return Of A King: A Zombie Chronicle – Z Factor (second in trilogy)
The Animus Portal