Category Archives: Overweight

Which Foods Cause Obesity?

At my Advanced Mediterranean Diet website a few years ago I asked visitors to answer a poll question. 2,367 responded thusly:

What single food category makes you gain the most fat weight?

Fatty foods like bacon, butter, oils, nuts:
5%
Protein-rich foods: meat, eggs, fish:
0%
Sugary sweet items:
23%
Starches: bread, potatoes, peas, corn:
16%
Carbohydrates:
30%
Pastries, cake, pie, cookies:
25%
Other:
1%

Total Votes: 2367

Yes, I know it’s not a scientific poll, but it’s something. I’m not surprised at the results. I’m wishing I’d offered nuts as a choice since there are at least a few folks who gain weight on nuts, perhaps not realizing that nut calories are mostly from fat. To participate in the poll, click the link above.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Why Are We in the U.S. Fat?

Your average Americans

There’s no shortage of speculation as to why 70% of us in the U.S. are overweight or obese. A few possibilities include:

  • we’re too sedentary
  • we eat too many carbohydrates
  • we eat too much fat
  • our foods are over-processed
  • we eat away from home too often
  • we eat too many industrial seed oils
  • our water and food are contaminated with persistent organic pollutants that disrupt our endocrine systems

I was reading an article at Nutrition Today and came across this graph of calorie consumption change from 1971 to 2004 (or 2000?):

A verbal summary is from this article cited by the the Nutrition Today authors: “During 1971—2000, a statistically significant increase in average energy intake occurred. For men, average energy intake increased from 2,450 kcals to 2,618 kcals, and for women, from 1,542 kcals to 1,877 kcals.”

So men’s daily calorie intake went up by 168, and women’s by 335.

The original article I read states, alternatively, that men’s daily caloric consumption rose from 2450 to 2693, a gain of 243. I can’t explain the discrepancy between 243 and 168, nor why 2004 is in the graph instead of 2000.

Maybe you don’t think an extra 168 calories a day is much. If you believe in the validity of the Energy Balance Equation, those 168 daily calories will turn into  17.5 pounds of fat in a year unless you “burn them off” somehow. If you weigh 150 lb (68 kg), you can burn those 168 calories by doing a daily 15-minute jog at 5.5 mph (8.9 km/hr). But you ain’t gonna do that. (I’m not getting into a debate about validity of the equation now; for another perspective, read Lyle McDonald.)

But year 2000 was a long time ago. How much are Americans eating now? According to a 2016 report from Pew Research Center:

Broadly speaking, we eat a lot more than we used to: The average American consumed 2,481 calories a day in 2010, about 23% more than in 1970. That’s more than most adults need to maintain their current weight, according to the Mayo Clinic’s calorie calculator. (A 40-year-old man of average height and weight who’s moderately active, for instance, needs 2,400 calories; a 40-year-old woman with corresponding characteristics needs 1,850 calories.)

Bottom line? We’re eating more than we did in 1970. Which could explain why we’re fat. Unless we’re burning more calories than we did in 1970, which I doubt.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: In scientific literature, “kcal” is what everybody else calls a calorie.

PPS: Why we’re over-eating is a whole ‘nuther can o’ worms.

NASEM: Don’t Trust U.S. Dietary Guidelines

Back to the drawing board

NASEM is the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Dr. Andy Harris writes that:

The nation’s senior scientific body recently released a new report raising serious questions about the “scientific rigor” of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This report confirms what many in government have suspected for years and is the reason why Congress mandated this report in the first place: our nation’s top nutrition policy is not based on sound science.

Dr. Harris notes that since 1980, when the guidelines were first published, rates of obesity have doubled and diabetes has quadrupled.

Current recommendations to reduce saturated fat consumption and to eat health whole grains do not, after all, reduce rates of cardiovascular disease. That was my conclusion about saturated fat in 2009.

For a mere $68 you can read the NASEM report yourself. Better yet, read Tom Naughton’s thoughts for free.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: The diets I’ve designed are contrary to U.S. Dietary Guidelines.

Modern U.S. Women Weigh as Much as the Average Man of 1960

 

Way over 166 lb

Way over 166 lb

But women now are also about a half inch (2.2 cm) taller, so that explains it, right? Not by a long shot. The author of the article below blames unhealthy food, too much of it, plus physical inactivity. Since 1960, women’s average weight is up 18.5%, and men’s up 17.6%.

Click the link below for details. I quote:

The average American woman weighs 166.2 pounds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As reddit recently pointed out, that’s almost exactly as much as the average American man weighed in the early 1960s.

Men, you’re not looking too hot in this scenario either. Over the same time period you gained nearly 30 pounds, from 166.3 in the 60s to 195.5 today.

Source: The average American woman now weighs as much as the average 1960s man – The Washington Post

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: You wanna do something about it? Send my book to someone you love.

PPS: Men are also a half inch taller.

Excessive Loose Skin After Massive Weight Loss Is a Problem 

None of my patients has ever lost 650 lb (295 kg), but I’ve no doubt that skin that has been stretched out for decades doesn’t spring back into place.

NYT has an interesting article on it:

“It has been more than six years since Paul Mason, who once weighed 980 pounds and could not move from his bed, pulled himself back to life with gastric bypass surgery and his own strength of will. But he still carries his past with him.

On Wednesday, Mr. Mason, who is 55 and now lives in rural Athol, Mass., took another important step in a process that has been long and uneven, marked by small triumphs and unexpected setbacks. He had the second of two surgeries to eliminate the excess skin that enveloped his body like a shroud. Fifty pounds of it was removed from his abdomen last year; this time, about 10 pounds’ worth was excised from his arms and hip in a multihour operation in Manhattan.”

Source: Hundreds of Pounds Lighter, and Now Shedding Another Burden of the Past – The New York Times

40% of U.S. Women Now Obese; Men’s Rate Holding at 35%

That excess weight can shorten your life

That excess weight can shorten your life

Yahoo has a brief article with a few more details. For $30 you can read the original scientific report from Journal of the American Medical Association.

Obesity in this context is defined as a body mass index of 30 or higher. Calculate your BMI here.

Is it your fault if you’re obese?

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: If you want to buck the overweight/obesity trend, check out my books.

Do Potatoes Make You Fat or Diabetic?

Researchers in Denmark say “no.” French fries, maybe.

“The identified studies do not provide convincing evidence to suggest an association between intake of potatoes and risks of obesity, T2D, or CVD. French fries may be associated with increased risks of obesity and T2D although confounding may be present. In this systematic review, only observational studies were identified. These findings underline the need for long-term randomized controlled trials.”

Source: Potatoes and risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease in apparently healthy adults: a systematic review of clinical intervention and observational studies

Obesity Paradox Resolved?

Not familiar with the obesity paradox? Read about it at Wikipedia, which may or may not be accurate.

From a recent article at MPT:

“A massive meta-analysis pooling data from millions of people in several countries reaffirmed that body mass index (BMI) has a J-shaped relationship with mortality, with the lowest death rates among those in the traditional “normal” range of 20-25.

The study of nearly four million people revealed that those in every BMI category above and below the normal range had significantly higher mortality rates.The elevation in risk applied to even mildly overweight people, and was highest for those with overt obesity, according to researchers with the Global BMI Mortality Collaboration, a part of the University of Cambridge.”

***

“Our results challenge recent suggestions that overweight and moderate obesity are not associated with higher mortality, bypassing speculation about hypothetical protective metabolic effects of increased body fat in apparently healthy individuals,” wrote the authors. Their data showed the J-shaped relationship maintained for every age group, albeit attenuated somewhat among those in the 70-89 age range.”

Source: Study: Higher BMI Signals Earlier Death | Medpage Today

Dr. Eades Attempts to Explain the U.S. Obesity Epidemic

Dr. Michael Eades of Protein Power fame thinks he knows why we’ve gotten fat starting 35 years ago:

Along with carbohydrates, vegetable oils have increased dramatically in the typical American diet. Over the same time period, we’ve all started eating away from home more and more, so that we’ve lost control of exactly what kinds of fats we’ve been eating.

Click the link for the details of his hypothesis, which involves the effects of various dietary fats and carbohydrates on intracellular energy metabolism and insulin resistance.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Even if you think proteins are powerless, my books are made without vegetable oils.

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Natural Versus Drug Therapy for Metabolic Syndrome

"These are flying off the shelves!"

“But selling drugs is good for the economy!”

Have you heard that 60% of adults in the U.S. are taking prescription drugs? That’s up from 50% a decade ago. UPI has the pertinent details. A snippet:

Many of the most used drugs reflect the effects of metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions tied to obesity and diet.

“Eight of the 10 most commonly used drugs in 2011–2012 are used to treat components of the cardiometabolic syndrome, including hypertension, diabetes, and dyslipidemia,” researchers wrote in the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “Another is a proton-pump inhibitor used for gastroesophageal reflux, a condition more prevalent among individuals who are overweight or obese. Thus, the increase in use of some agents may reflect the growing need for treatment of complications associated with the increase in overweight and obesity.”

I’m not anti-drug, generally. Lord knows I prescribe my fair share. But in addition to the cost of drugs, we have side effects and drug interactions to worry about. If we in the U.S. would effectively attack overweight and obesity, we’d be much better off.

But it’s a lot easier to just pop a pill, isn’t it?

Especially if someone else is paying for the pill.

Steve Parker, M.D.