THURSDAY, Dec. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Certain species of
wildlife are adopting an urban American diet, a new study
Because of increasing urbanization, people and animals are
living closer together and interacting more than ever before. For
example, foxes, raccoons and opossums often scavenge leftovers from
drive-thrus rather than hunt mice, rats, birds and other prey.
For this study, which appears in the December issue of the
Journal of Mammalogy, researchers analyzed hair samples collected from people and endangered San Joaquin kit foxes in and around Bakersfield, Calif. They found similarities that suggest a shared food source.
Foxes living in the city had significantly higher carbon and
lower nitrogen values than foxes in adjacent rural areas. The urban
foxes also had higher cholesterol levels.
High carbon values indicate a diet high in corn or its
derivative, corn syrup. Processed foods in North American contain
large amounts of corn products and have high carbon values.
It might be assumed that foxes that eat processed foods would
have a deficient diet that would lead to poorer health and
development and lower rates of reproduction. But this study found
that urban foxes have higher survival and birth rates than rural
foxes. This may be because foxes in rural areas have a greater
number of predators, said the researchers in a journal news
The American Academy of Family Physicians offers
tips for healthy eating.