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Monday, June 20, 2011

The Cure

In 2044, it was finally done. Obesity was conquered.

The savior of human health was Dr. Martin Guilietti. Treatment after treatment had failed to cure obesity for half a century as the epidemic swept the world. Food production continued to meet and exceed consumption and demand, despite continual ups and downs in the economy. By 2040, except a few of the poorest countries in Africa, all other countries had an obesity rate above 50%.

Driven by a sense of desperation in the face of suffocating health care costs, government agencies in every country quickly approved Dr. Guilietti's composite gene therapy that plugged all the major energy conservation holes in the human physiological system. No one currently alive could be cured, but the next generation would. The gene therapy, which used a viral vector to enter the embryo, must be injected within the first trimester to take effect. Nevertheless, the treatment was snapped up by millions upon millions of expecting mothers as governments subsidized the treatment, hoping the investment would pay off through lower rates of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and arthritis in future generations.

The therapy worked wonderfully. The rate of obesity steadily declined as the first group of children grew up and more and more children received it. Within less than 100 years, obesity virtually disappeared on the face of the earth, with the exception of a few poor African countries --- not poor enough for their people to remain starved and thin, but poor enough to have been unable to afford the cure. And, indeed, life expectancy returned to its rising trend after decades of decline.

Humanity was so elated by this achievement that the world saw a rare period of peace with no major military conflict for nearly 20 years. Unfortunately, Dr. Guilietti did not live to receive a Nobel Prize in medicine for his discovery. His statutes were erected in no fewer than 105 countries.

In 2132, famine hit.

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