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See What Junk Food Does to Fish!

When I've talked about the obesity epidemic, it brings to mind a familiar quote: "You are what you eat." If a large portion of your daily diet comes from junk food, don't be terribly surprised if you feel sick, sluggish, have little energy and generally feel older. Keep eating and you might shave a few years off your life too.

That's why this "true" fish story caught my attention. According to researchers at McGill University, some freshwater fish have skipped their usual diet of insects and crustaceans for invasive European quagga mussels: the St. Lawrence River's junk food!

Scientists anticipate this shift may have negative effects on fish growth and may also affect other freshwater animals on the river and could be emblematic of a more wide-spread problem, affecting other freshwater systems.

Because the mussels are not an adequate nutrition source -- and contain toxins, such as PCBs and botulism toxin (food poisoning) -- this junk food could kill the fish or their predators.

Similar junk food diets have had a negative impact on the Great Lakes, which cause a ripple effect resulting in the death of more than tens of thousands of fish-eating birds, including common loons, mergansers and gulls.

Food for thought, indeed...

EurekAlert September 23, 2004

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