Obesity Soon to Affect Average Life Span in U.S.

That excess weight can shorten your life

That excess weight can shorten your life

“The medical community seems to be under a fog that we can constantly and forever reduce death rates, and that’s simply not true,” said Professor Olshansky, who published a study in 2012 showing that life spans for white women without a high school diploma had declined, a rare event in developed countries.

“You need to look at the health status of the living,” not the mortality statistics of the dead, he said, adding that obesity is afflicting younger generations in a way that will eventually make the numbers worse.

RTWT at The New York Times. 

Do something about your obesity before it’s too late.

Steve Parker, M.D.

 

Paleobetic Diet-FrontCover_300dpi_RGB_5.5x8.5

If You’re Interested In Human Evolution, You Need to Know About the Denisovans

So here’s a 10-minute video from Pique. Denisovans are a hominin group, some remains of whom were discovered in the 1970s in or near Russia. Modern native Tibetans share at least one gene with the Denisovans, a gene that helps them tolerate hypoxia (low tissue levels of oxygen).

Paleo Diet Pioneer Melvin Konner’s Latest Thoughts on Healthy Eating

Back in 1985, Melvin Konner and S. Boyd Eaton got the ball rolling on the current Paleolithic diet movement. Thirty years later, what would Konner say is a healthy way to eat?

Recent data on these issues make me more comfortable today saying what not to eat. Our ancestors had no refined carbs, which are killing us. We’d be wise to limit salt and saturated fat, which our ancestors’ prey had little of, and fiber and omega-three fatty acids seem to be good. Most humans have to avoid dairy; many must avoid wheat. Find out if you’re one of them. Exercise. That’s about it.

I’ve seen good data saying salt restriction is both harmful an helpful. So flip a coin or talk to your personal physician. If I were looking at starting a drug for hypertension, I’d certainly cut back on salt first and see if that cured me.

Recent clinical studies show that saturated fat isn’t harmful to most of us.

Steve Parker, M.D.

No link to suicide

Bariatric Surgery Linked To Increased Suicide Attempts

according to an article at MedPageToday.

Steve Parker MD, bariatric surgery

Band Gastric Bypass Surgery

Self-harm emergencies rose by 50% after gastric bypass surgery in the Canadians in this study.

Folks on my diets lose weight without an increase in suicide risk, as far as I know. Click on my name for the diets.

For God’s sake, if you do nothing else, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline if you’re thinking about killing yourself. What have you got to lose? Suicide really is a permanent “solution” for a temporary problem.

Steve Parker, M.D.

No link to suicide

No link to suicide

For Seniors On Weight-Loss Diet, Strength Training Beats Aerobics For Preserving Bone Mineral Density

according to an article at MedPageToday.

"One more rep then I'm outa here!"

“One more rep then I’m outa here!”

The two experimental groups had about 60 participants each, so it was a relatively small study. (In general, the larger the study, the more reliable the findings.) Most participants were white women; mean age was 69. The experimental intervention ran for five months. An excerpt:

In one trial, the participants were randomized to a structured resistance training program in which three sets of 10 repetitions of eight upper and lower body exercises were done 3 days each week at 70% of one repetition maximum for 5 weeks, with or without calorie restriction of 600 calories per day.
In the second study, participants were randomized to an aerobic program which was conducted for 30 minutes at 65% to 70% heart rate reserve 4 days per week, with or without calorie restriction of 600 calories per day.

The beneficial bone effect was seen at the hip but not the lumbar spine.

Thin old bones—i.e., osteoporotic ones—are prone to fractures. Maintaining or improving bone mineral density probably prevents age-related fractures. In a five-month small study like this, I wouldn’t expect the researchers to find any fracture rate reduction; that would take years. 

Most elders starting a weight-training program should work with a personal trainer. I don’t quite qualify as elderly, but click if interested in my personal fitness program.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Strength training is also known as weight training and resistance exercise.

Does Pollution Cause Type 2 Diabetes?

See text for mention of pancreatic alpha and beta cells

See text for mention of pancreatic alpha and beta cells

A panel of university-based scientists convened by The Endocrine Society recently reviewed the available literature on health effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (aka EDCs). The executive summary is available free online. Some excerpts:

The full Scientific Statement represents a comprehensive review of the literature on seven topics for which there is strong mechanistic, experimental, animal, and epidemiological evidence for endocrine disruption, namely: obesity and diabetes, female reproduction, male reproduction, hormone-sensitive cancers in females, prostate cancer, thyroid, and neurodevelopment and neuroendocrine systems. EDCs such as bisphenol A, phthalates, pesticides, persistent organic pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls, polybrominated diethyl ethers, and dioxins were emphasized because these chemicals had the greatest depth and breadth of available information.

*  *  *

Both cellular and animal models demonstrate a role for EDCs in the etiology of obesity and T2D [type 2 diabetes]. For obesity, animal studies show that EDC-induced weight gain depends on the timing of exposure and the age of the animals. Exposures during the perinatal period [the weeks before and after birth] trigger obesity later in life. New results covering a whole range of EDC doses have underscored the importance of nonmonotonic dose-response relationships; some doses induced weight increase, whereas others did not. Furthermore, EDCs elicit obesity by acting directly on white adipose tissue, al- though brain, liver, and even the endocrine pancreas may be direct targets as well.

Regarding T2D, animal studies indicate that some EDCs directly target 􏰁beta and alpha cells in the pancreas, adipocytes, and liver cells and provoke insulin resistance together with hyperinsulinemia. These changes can also be associated with altered levels of adiponectin and leptin— often in the absence of weight gain. This diabetogenic action is also a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, and hyperinsulinemia can drive diet-induced obesity. Epide- miological studies in humans also point to an association between EDC exposures and obesity and/or T2D; however, because many epidemiological studies are cross-sectional, with diet as an important confounding factor in humans, it is not yet possible to infer causality.

RTWT.

Bix at Fanatic Cook blog says foods of animal origin are the major source of harmful persistent organic pollutants, some of which act as ECDs.

Keep your eyes and ears open for new research reports on this critically important topic.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Book front cover

Book front cover

The First Noel

Credit: Zvonimir Atletic / Shutterstock.com

Credit: Zvonimir Atletic / Shutterstock.com

Merry Christmas to all my readers!

-Steve

Is Food Insecurity Really a Problem in the U.S.?

I’m hearing ads on the radio that many in the U.S., including children, are suffering from hunger. Nutrition science journals in the last few years are covering “food insecurity,” which many would assume means not having enough food or fearing the lack of food.

These concerns seem at odds with the fact that two-thirds of us are overweight or obese. So how many of us at normal or below-average weights suffer from food insecurity or hunger?

James Bovard breaks it down for you in an excellent article. Read the whole thing. Some morsels (heh):

  • seven times as many (low income) children are obese as are underweight
  • 40% of food stamp (SNAP) users are obese, compared to 30% in the overall U.S. adult population
  • if the food stamp program would prohibit purchase of sugary drinks, it would prevent 141,000 children from becoming fat and save a quarter million adults from type 2 diabetes

Fat hungry people would be less hungry if they’d cut way back on refined, nutrient-poor carbohydrates, replacing with protein and healthy fats.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Antibiotics May Cause Type 2 Diabetes

Denmark researchers found an association between antibiotic usage and later development of type 2 diabetes. Just because there’s a linkage between antibiotics and type 2 diabetes doesn’t mean there is a direct causal relationship.

One possible way that antibiotics could cause diabetes, however, would be through alteration of gut germs (aka microbiome). An antibiotic may do a great job curing your urinary tract infection, while at the same time eliminating millions of certain gut bacteria and allowing other species to have a population explosion. One of the most fascinating fields of medicine now is trying to figure out if and how the billions of bacteria in our intestines might influence health and disease. F’rinstance, gut bacteria may influence whether we are fat or slim.

I bet if you graphed antibiotic use and incidence of type 2 diabetes over the last 50 years, they would trend together pretty well. Any volunteers to do that?

Steve Parker, M.D.

Is the Hemoglobin A1c Test Always Accurate?

From 97 to 90 mg/dl

Not the only way to assess glucose control

Can you believe I’ve had patients show me a week’s worth of home glucose tests showing great numbers, tell me they’ve been that good for the last three months, and then I find a sky high Hemoglobin A1c test? How can that be?

Hemglobin A1c (or HgbA1c) is a standard measure of glucose control, or lack thereof, over the three months preceding the blood test.

It’s also used for diagnosis of diabetes and prediabetes. Levels between 5.7 and 6.4% suggest prediabetes. Levels of 6.5% of higher indicate diabetes.

Hemoglobin is the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells. HgbA1c tells us if many sugar molecules are stuck to the hemoglobin, a process called glycosylation. HgbA1c is sometimes referred to as glycated hemoglobin. About half of the HgbA1c value is determined by blood sugar levels in the month before the blood draw.

But the HgbA1c test is not always an accurate reflection of blood sugar levels.

Many factors unrelated to serum glucose (sugar) levels can alter the HgbA1c value. Here they are:

Pregnancy

Pregnant women tend to have lower than average HgbA1c.

 

Certain Types of Anemia

Iron-deficiency anemia may yield falsely low or high HgbA1c, depending on whether it’s being treated or not.

Acute bleeding and hemolytic anemia give falsely low HbA1c values.

The unifying feature here is that young red blood cells, called reticulocytes, take some time to get glycosylated.

Lack of a Spleen 

HgbA1c will be falsely high. Your spleen removes old red blood cells. Not having a spleen increases the life span of red blood cells, so they can accumulate more glucose molecules.

Various Hemoglobin Types or Congenital Abnormalities

Hemoglobin S and hemoglobin C may lead to deceptively low HgbA1c. Hemoglobin F tends to overestimate.

Blood Transfusions

Recent red blood cell transfusions will lower the HgbA1c if it was elevated to begin with, especially if lots of blood is transfused.

Renal Failure

It’s complicated; talk to your kidney specialist.

Chronic Disease

HgbA1c values can be unreliable in chronic alcoholism, chronic narcotic users, severely high triglyceride or bilirubin levels, kidney failure, vitamin and mineral deficiencies (particularly the vitamins and minerals needed to make red blood cells).

Race

Hispanics, Asians, and Blacks tend to have higher HgbA1c’s than Whites who have the same blood sugar levels. The difference is about 0.3% (absolute, not relative.

Wild Glycemic Excursions

What’s this? You might call it labile diabetes: dramatic swings between sugars too low and way too high. For example, this patient may have daily glucose swings between 40 and 210 mg/dl (2.2  and 11.7 mmol/l). His HgbA1c may turn out near normal or acceptable, but many experts worry that the wild oscillations may contribute to diabetic microvascular complications like eye and kidney disease.

Are There Alternatives to HgbA1c?

Yes. If you think the HgbA1c test is inaccurate, consider other tests such as continuous glucose monitoring, fructosamine, glycated albumin, 1,5-anhydroglucitol, and more frequent home glucose monitoring.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference: Bazerbachi, F., et al. Is hemoglobin A1c an accurate measure of glycemic control in all diabetic patients? Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, vol. 81, #3, March 2014: 146-149