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Is it acceptable to use animals to model obese humans? A critical discussion of two arguments against the use of animals in obesity research
  1. Thomas Bøker Lund1,
  2. Thorkild I A Sørensen2,
  3. I Anna S Olsson3,
  4. Axel Kornerup Hansen4,
  5. Peter Sandøe1
  1. 1Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Denmark
  2. 2The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, & Institute of Preventive Medicine, Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hospital – Part of the Copenhagen University Hospital, The Capital Region, Denmark
  3. 3IBMC—Instituto de Biologia Molecular e Celular, Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal
  4. 4Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Thomas Bøker Lund, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, Rolighedsvej 25, Frederiksberg C 1958, Denmark; tblu{at}, pes{at}


Animal use in medical research is widely accepted on the basis that it may help to save human lives and improve their quality of life. Recently, however, objections have been made specifically to the use of animals in scientific investigation of human obesity. This paper discusses two arguments for the view that this form of animal use, unlike some other forms of animal-based medical research, cannot be defended. The first argument leans heavily on the notion that people themselves are responsible for developing obesity and so-called ‘lifestyle’ diseases; the second involves the claim that animal studies of obesity's causes and therapies distract attention from preventive efforts. Drawing on both empirical data and moral reasoning, we argue that the relevant attributions of responsibility and claims about distraction are not plausible, and that, therefore, there is no reason to single out the use of animals in obesity research as especially problematic.

  • Animal Experimentation
  • Research Ethics
  • Public Policy

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