According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, the latest studies indicate that, in the past 20 years, overweight and obesity rates have more than doubled for adults and tripled for children.1 So why the sudden expansion (pun intended)?
We are exposed to an estimated 600 billion pounds of synthetic chemicals every year, according to Dr. Samuel Epstein, professor emeritus of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at the University of Illinois School of Public Health.1
After reviewing 120 scientific papers on the link between environmental pollution and human disease, Cornell University researchers concluded in July 2007 that various toxins found in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and food we eat contribute to 40 percent of deaths worldwide.2 Many of these toxins are fat soluble, often becoming lodged in our fat cells. Korean researchers discovered that people with high levels of these toxins are more likely than the general population to suffer from type 2 diabetes.3
Everyone knows that smoking is a major cause of cancer. Yet, according to research published in the British Journal of Public Health, obese adults have more chronic health problems than their smoking counterparts, some of which greatly increase their risk of cancer.
More than 30 known diseases are now believed to be directly linked to excess body fat, including heart disease, diabetes, periodontal disease, inflammation, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, infertility, and many cancers (including gastrointestinal, colon, kidney, esophagus, prostate, breast, and endometrial).
The more belly fat these people lost, the more blood flowed to their fingertips, indicating better arterial function.
"Our study demonstrated that the amount of improvement in the vessels was directly linked to how much central, or belly fat, the individuals lost, regardless of which diet they were on," said lead researcher and John Hopkins professor Kerry J. Stewart.
Does it really matter where the source of your calories come from? Are all calories created equal? In scientific terms, a calorie (also known as kilocalorie or kcal) is the amount of energy required to raise one gram of water one degree Celsius. By that definition, chemically speaking, calories from fat, protein and carbs might be considered equal. When we consider the hormonal, physiological and psychological effect of various macronutrients, however, the results change.
Boost Protein to Reduce Belly Fat:
Protein is a necessary building block for many hormones including serotonin, melatonin, growth hormone, thyroid hormone and dopamine. If we fail to get enough in our diet, we can experience mood disorders, memory loss, increased appetite and cravings, decreased metabolism, sleep disruption, muscle loss and weight gain. Protein triggers glucagon (which maintains normal levels of glucose in the blood while carbohydrates trigger insulin (your fat storing hormone). As you can see, these are two very different hormonal reactions. Protein also stimulates the release of Peptide YY from the gut, suppressing our appetite by acting on our feeding center in the hypothalamus. A protein-rich diet also helps to shed stubborn belly fat, according to a study published in Diabetes Care. Researchers compared a high-protein diet with a low-protein diet in 54 obese men and women with type 2 diabetes. Those on the high-protein diet had significantly greater reductions in total and abdominal fat mass and a greater reduction in LDL cholesterol.1
Can stress cause weight gain? The short answer is "yes." This is one of the many topics covered in the User's Guide to Weight-Loss Supplements (Basic Health Publications User's Guide paperback) and the discussion there explores one of the reasons that weight loss programs often fail. In a 1986 Dutch study, men who experienced many life events in a short period of time — one definition of stress — gained weight. This study also showed the importance of identifying and treating the problem (stress) rather than the symptom (weight gain). In these men the excessive weight had disappeared in almost all subgroups a year later. The exception was the subgroup that had tried to lose weight by dieting. The men who had dieted had gained yet more weight.
- Eat protein at every meal, including breakfast.
- Eliminate wheat- and flour-based products for the time being. And yes, that definitely includes bread and pasta.
- Eliminate “food products.” Ninety percent of what you eat should be food that could have been hunted, caught, gathered from the ground, plucked from a tree or grown.
Americans are getting fatter.
Some have called our creeping obesity a virtual epidemic. They wouldn’t be far off. The figures are staggering: a 60 percent increase in the prevalence of obesity in the 1990’s alone says the October 4, 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. According to 1999 data, the average U.S. man now weighs 187 pounds and the average U.S. woman weighs 151. The “obesity boom” has also helped fuel an increase in type 2 diabetes. According to researchers at the CDC (Center for Disease Control), this increase in diabetes was no accident— type 2 diabetes is strongly associated with obesity. The CDC researchers feel that this association demonstrates that “obesity is not just a cosmetic disorder but a major risk factor for chronic diseases.” The World Health Organization would seem to agree: by their figures, over 300,000 Americans die prematurely from obesity related complications.
If there is one thing that is the bane of a good figure and vibrant health, it is belly fat. I am talking about that stubborn extra roll around the middle that does not seem to disappear, no matter how swift your metabolism, how much you exercise or how many sit ups you do. For some people, belly weight means the dreaded “muffin top” that escapes over the top of your jeans. For others, abdominal weight gain results in a clear round, apple shape. The fat in those love handles also contribute to increased blood triglyceride levels, inflammation and insulin resistance. Carrying extra weight around the middle puts you at higher risk of heart disease, cancers and diabetes.
Last week, we discussed the touchy subject of sugar cravings and artificial sweeteners, and the influence of diet soft drinks on weight. (It increases it.)
According to the Vancouver Sun, obesity is partly to blame for the rise in joint surgery. They were, of course, writing for their Canadian audience, but it is just as true in the US. If that is true (and it doubtless is), it is not difficult to understand. Added weight increases stress on the bones and joints.