FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health


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The Obesity/Diabesity Pandemic – Solutions?

Obesity is a major risk factor for the development of the most common form of diabetes mellitus, type 2, so much so that the epidemic is often called diabesity. It has been described as one of the most important crises that has invaded our public health system. It has now become a pandemic since it meets the definition: (of a disease) prevalent over a whole country or the world.

Globally: Source: Lancet

  • Since 1980, the number of adults with diabetes worldwide has quadrupled from 108 million to 422 million in 2014.
  • Diabetes is fast becoming a major problem in low and middle-income countries.
  • From 1980 to 2014, the prevalence of diabetes more than doubles for men in India and China.
  • Half of adults worldwide with diabetes in 2014 lived in five countries: China, India, USA, Brazil and Indonesia.

So what are some possible solutions for the future?  

The standard American diet (SAD) is in much need of an overhaul and our national food systems need to change if we wish to reverse or at least slow down this trend. Many say that it would take the same determination as the campaigns to change behaviors that were utilized during the campaigns against smoking. .

Prevention awareness should be first on the front lines of treating the people with prediabetes that can often be reversible using lifestyle modifications. There are already some prevention models in the community; however, these should be expanded so that they become more easily accessible to more people. The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) uses intensive behavioral therapy to help people lose a little bit of weight (typically 5-10%). When this program is followed, the number of people progressing to have diabetes comes down by more than half; In people over 60, the reduction was 70%.

Nutrition education should be incorporated into the school system in the early years to help young children understand the importance of knowing where our food comes from and why healthy foods are the best choice. They can be taught about balanced eating, calories, reading labels and grocery shopping. Nutrition education can also be offered at the middle and high school levels by returning to a totally revamped and modernized home economics course in the curriculum. Involving students in their nutrition education is key.

A lingering problem has existed for many primary care physicians for many years in that they say they were never adequately prepared in nutrition principles in medical schools. In a survey of family physicians (2009), two thirds said that dealing with extremely obese patients is “frustrating “and one-half said treatments are often ineffective. This is reflected by a lack off obesity training.

Shockingly, another survey in 2010 of 140 doctors revealed that nearly one-third were not even familiar with the American Diabetes Association (ADA) prediabetes guidelines. Only 6 percent were able to identify all 11 risk factors and on average, the doctors could only identify just eight of the warning signs. Only 17 percent knew the correct laboratory values for blood glucose and only 11 percent said they would refer a patient to a behavioral weight loss program. If the medical community was more involved in increasing access to prevention programs or other options, more attention might be paid by individuals in seeking these treatments. In other words, people listen to their doctors.

There should be an increased number and access to professional treatments. Medical professionals not trained in obesity management should refer their patients to outside providers such as dietitians, exercise trainers, behavior therapists, psychologists, or a new concept of health coaches. These providers should be trained, certified, and credentialed to protect the public from unscrupulous treatments and to provide quality care. Reimbursement of qualified health professionals needs to be enhanced.

We have become a nation of non-cooks and prefer to have our meals prepared by someone else. Encourage home cooking and home kit meals to help to counter using fast foods and packaged highly processed meals loaded with calories, fat, sugar and salt.

Educate the public on food labeling, ingredient lists and marketing techniques. Beware of food companies that promote products with a “health halo” meaning exaggerated claims are made that appear to make unhealthy foods seem healthy because of an added nutrient or ingredient. Corporations also mislead consumers with their labeling. For example they may include four different types of sugar to keep sugar from being listed as the first ingredient. This is misleading to the consumer when attempting to make wise food choices.

Stop corporate-government partnerships and lobbying influences.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) is funded by a myriad of food companies including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Kellogg’s. The dairy industry has a long history of influencing the food pyramid and Dietary Guidelines. Another health organization guilty of taking in millions from food companies is the American Heart Association. They offer a “Heart – Check logo for a price: $5, 490 to $7,500 that is renewable for another annual fee. The product has to be low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol to gain this “honor.” However, some products such as Boar’s Head processed meats have the logo and still may contain high levels of sodium. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) found that eating processed meat, such as bacon, sausage or processed deli meats, was associated with a 42% higher risk of heart disease and a 19% higher risk of type 2 diabetes. May 17, 2010

Bottom Line: It will take a concerted effort from government, politics, industry, communities, and other perpetrators of our obesigenic culture to begin to change this disturbing trend and prevention is the key. It may take decades; however, there has to be a beginning.

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Why Don’t the Japanese Get Fat?

The Japanese are one of the longest living cultures in the world. For centuries the Japanese diet has been loaded with carbohydrates, low in protein and very low fat. The Japanese report death rates from heart disease that are half the of the U.S., as well as one of the lowest incidences of breast cancer in the world. Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is also less frequent than in Western countries and death rates from breast, prostate, and uterine cancers are comparatively low.

Why didn’t obesity and accompanying diabetes cripple their society as it does in the U.S. and/or parts of Europe, namely the UK?  Why did Americans gain so much weight and develop type 2 diabetes since the 1980’s after adapting a high carbohydrate, lower fat diet?   What happened? You cannot blame carbohydrates solely for the obesity problem.  This epidemic is more than likely multi factorial with conditions present in the food supply and/or the environment.

What are the Japanese guidelines compared to ours? Interesting!

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Why We Get Fat? The Current Debate

 

The most talked about topic concerning our obesity epidemic involves two major theoretical theories: the conventional theory of calories in -calories- out and the carbohydrate-insulin model.  It is important for the population to have a basic understanding of these theories in order to deal with the obesity conundrum so prevalent in our current food environment. Determining which is predominant could help us to counteract the epidemic with the most effective dietary treatments. The following article provides us with a simplified understanding of both sides of the debate.

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Obsesity: Simple Truths about a Complex Condition

If there was ever a complicated topic, the causes of obesity probably would be at the head of the list. Furthermore, solutions remain elusive.

The problem is spreading. Once considered prevalent only in high-income populations, overweight and obesity are  now on the rise in low and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings. We now hear the term globesity as well as diabesity. Sounds like a changing food environment may be an important factor?

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Diabetes Awareness Month

The global statistics speak for themselves.  “This year 10 million more people are living with diabetes than in 2015, meaning that 1 in 11 adults now has diabetes, for a total of 425 million people.” Many people don’t know they even have a condition called pre-diabetes. Prevention is often effective and there are many prevention programs in the U.S; however, they do not seem to be utilized as well as they should be.

In my opinion, people can lose 10% of their body weight on any diet in time if they stick to the program.  The problem: Keeping the weight off. An effective prevention program for obesity/diabetes should contain weight maintenance training in terms of realizing what is necessary to prevent weight regain. Our bodies have developed many mechanisms for putting weight back on, not taking it off. A Forbes article found HERE discusses some pitfalls on weight reduction.

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The “Magic” of Weight Loss?

It has become more and more obvious that the simple advice for weight loss, i.e. “eat less” just does not work for many people. The body fights to maintain the weight it wants, and often that is not the weight we want. For most dieters, this results in losing a few pounds and gaining them back over and over again. Weight loss claims by many weight loss plans are “magical” and not realistic. How many times have you seen them display their results in terms of how their diet resulted in long-term weight loss? There is always the disclaimer that accompanies their before and after photos that says in fine print something like “results are not typical for every one.”

This was so obvious when the study on the “Biggest Loser” participants came to light that all but one in one of the seasons had gained a large percentage of their weight back. That is not to say their weight loss was futile since even a loss of 5-10% of body weight can have health benefits.

It has been reported that many people are just giving up on dieting – no wonder. Weight loss is difficult and weight maintenance is even more difficult based on past research and should not be portrayed as anything other than that.

My favorite quotes on the subject reflect how many dieters feel:

“In two decades I’ve lost a total of 789 pounds. I should be hanging from a charm bracelet”Erma Bombeck

“I am more  than my measurements. The cycle of body shaming needs to end. I’m over it…My body is MY body. I’ll call the shots.” Ashley Graham

“I’m not going to miss 95% of life to weigh 5% less.” Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

“I finally figured out the big, elusive secret to weight loss. Don’t eat! Who knew?” Richelle E. Goodrich, Smile Anyway

“Healthy living is a learnable skill.” Claude Viens, The most powerful weight loss device ever made; The human brain

The obesity epidemic is becoming a global phenomenon. The obesity industry also continues to grow. With our current food environment, who knows when it may end

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