Wednesday, January 11, 2012

More thoughts on obesity

I read an article on MedPage Today, in which a scientist named Richard Kahn stated that weight loss programs didn't work, in stark contrast to most people in the field think they do, and Medicare is all set to spend millions of dollars on weight loss programs.

It was disheartening to see in the responses all the myths that people believe to be fact.

The first one is that obesity causes diabetes. But when 33.8% of Americans are obese, and only 8% have ALL kinds of diabetes, that's patently not true, and Type 2 diabetes needs to be clearly differentiated from obesity.

Second, not enough is known about what causes obesity. Scientists are just beginning to discover the interactions between brain, gut and adipose tissue hormones that regulate appetite, BMR and calorie disposition. There may be other factors as yet unknown. So this attitude that one size fits all as far as diet and exercise is simply mistaken, as is the assumption that obese people got that way because they sat on the couch and gorged on Twinkies. Obesity certainly occurs in the presence of overnutrition, but people can get fat on so-called "healthy foods" just as easily as on junk food if that's how their metabolism works. So MUCH more work needs to be done on metabolic, genetic and epigenetic influences on obesity instead of the finger-pointing that is so rampant in the media and the medical profession.

Third, there is no reliable research showing that anything but morbid obesity actually damages health and longevity. In people over 65, those who fall in the "overweight" category have lower mortality rates than those who fall in the "normal" category. So we need better research on appropriate weights for different ages, instead of trying to advocate that everyone be shaped like a teenager.

Please, more research, and more thoughtful discussion instead of hysteria and old-wives tales!

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you Natalie, there is so much more that goes into obesity than food. I don’t know all the scientific reasoning behind it, but some people just have super slow metabolisms. When my foot was infected and I couldn’t move around, I was eating 1200 calories a day yet I gained 65 pounds. I was eating about 100 grams of carbs a day then and it wasn’t like that 1200 calories was made up of Twinkies. Last winter I went thru a very bad period of fatigue and started gaining weight again. I had to cut back to 600 calories a day to get the scale to stop heading up. When you try to tell a doctor you are gaining weight on 1200 calories, they don’t believe you.