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Obesity and Overweight: Why are We Fat?


  • Obesity and Overweight: Why are We Fat?

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    The main reason for excess weight

    There are two clichés: "people all over the world have been eating carbohydrates for centuries, it can't be that they all made mistakes and continue to make mistakes" and the second, my favorite: "everything must be balanced."

    About the fact that all people have been eating carbohydrates for centuries and they can't be wrong. The current state of affairs has nothing to do with what has been happening for centuries. According to the WHO, as recently as 1980, 857 million people were obese (that is, one in five people on the planet). In 2013, there were more than 2.1 billion of them (that is, every third one).

    It seems to us that this problem only concerns Americans with cheap giant portions in restaurants and developed culture of fast food. Nothing like that.

    Click on the image to see Video: The Surprising Reason People are Overweight, with Dr. Robert Lustig - TBWWP

    This is what statistics look like in different countries (according to the Organization for European cooperation and development):

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    Never before in history have people encountered anything like this. Obviously, the “centuries-old experience” does not reflect the current situation, which the World Health Organization has officially called the global epidemic of obesity since 1997.

    Interestingly, the dynamics of the obesity epidemic in the United States exactly coincides with the dynamics of growth in carbohydrate intake:

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    There are different ways to fight the epidemic. For example, in Britain, they offer a free surgical reduction of the volume of the stomach. And in 2011, Denmark introduced an additional tax on fat. However, after a year it was canceled because it was completely useless. Here are six charts that demonstrate without further ado the futility of the war on fat as such:

    In Europe, the countries that consume the most animal (saturated) fat per capita have the lowest level of cardiovascular disease.

    The obesity epidemic in the United States began shortly after the publication of the official dietary recommendation to avoid fatty foods and consume low fat:

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    National Center for Health Statistics (US)

    High-fat low-carb diets are statistically more effective than low-fat diets - a randomized comparative study of a low-carb diet and a low-fat calorie-restricted diet (Journal of Clinical Epidemiology and Metabolism, 2003)

    Statistics of "diseases of civilization" began to grow with the growth of consumption of vegetable oil, margarine, and trans-fats - Dr. Stephan Guyenet. The American Diet. 2012.

    The obesity epidemic also coincided with a decrease in the consumption of red meat and natural fatty foods - Hu FB, et al. Trends in the Incidence of Coronary Heart Disease and Changes in Diet and Lifestyle in Women. The New England Journal of Medicine, 2000.

    IIn the famous Framingham health study, the rate of heart disease increases as butter in the diet is replaced by margarine - Gillman MW, et al. Margarine intake and subsequent coronary heart disease in men.

    Click on the image to see Video: Jeffrey Friedman (Rockefeller U./HHMI): The Causes of Obesity and the Discovery of Leptin

    What's this all about? So, there is a large number of research that proves several important facts. What we eat today has very little to do with the age-old traditions and experience of mankind. We eat about twice as many carbohydrates today as we did half a century ago. The campaign against natural animal fat was a bad idea. There is nothing harmful in butter. And, most importantly, all these facts are obvious to everyone except highly respected domestic experts who do not like to read modern research and continue to mumble “everything must be balanced”.

    Where does the fat go

    We constantly talk about weight loss and fat burning, but in practice, we do not understand how this happens. Many people believe that fat is converted into some kind of energy or heat (which is grossly contrary to the law on energy conservation). Others believe that fat is converted into muscle tissue or even bone. Someone is sure that the fat cell can not be destroyed at all.

    In fact, the situation is somewhat different.

    In a new study, scientists from the University of New South Wales clearly explain what exactly happens to fat when it leaves the body. They presented interesting calculations based on basic knowledge of biochemistry.

    The truth is that we exhale excess fat in the form of carbon dioxide. It is carbon dioxide and water that are the end products of the breakdown of both fat and carbohydrates in the body.

    Click to see Video: What Really Causes Obesity?

    Excess carbohydrates are converted into triglycerides (the scientific name for fat). The goal of weight loss is to break down and remove these same triglycerides stored in adipose tissue.

    Australian scientists have calculated that to burn 10 kilograms of fat, a person needs to inhale 29 kilograms of oxygen and produce 28 kilograms of carbon dioxide and 11 kilograms of water.

    This is the fate of fat. Scientists have also determined exactly how much fat comes out as gas and how much as water. It turned out that out of 10 kg of fat, 8.4 is excreted through the lungs and only 1.6 – in the form of liquid with urine, sweat and other secretions.

    It turns out that respiratory organs play a major role in fat metabolism.

    Unfortunately, this does not mean that it is enough to breathe at a crazy pace to lose weight. Excessive breathing leads to hyperventilation of the lungs, which, in turn, is fraught with nausea and loss of consciousness. You should rely on good old sports and nutrition correction.

    Fructose increases cravings for junk food

    Harmless, it would seem, fruit sugar is found not only in treats for diabetics but also in soda, candy, and fast food. And the more fructose we eat, the more we crave delicious and extremely unhealthy food.

    Scientists from the University of South Carolina conducted a small study to determine how different types of sugar affect our hunger. They offered 24 healthy volunteers a glass of cherry-flavored liquid sweetened with glucose, and a few days later offered them a drink with fruit sugar. In nature, it is found in various fruits and honey and is also widely used as a sweetener in the fast-food industry.

    After each drink, the subjects were asked to undergo functional magnetic resonance imaging – which is one of the most effective ways to visualize processes in the brain. During the session, they were shown images of high-calorie foods such as cookies, burgers, and pizza, as well as neutral photos. Participants were asked to rate their desire to eat something on a scale of 1 to 10.

    In addition, immediately after consuming one of the two liquids, each volunteer was asked to make a choice: immediately eat something delicious and harmful, or give it up and receive a small monetary reward for a month. The researchers also measured the levels of glucose, insulin, and the enzymes leptin and ghrelin, which regulate satiety, in their blood.

    So it turned out that a drink with fructose significantly activated the orbifrontal cortex of the brain, responsible for the sense of reward, during the demonstration of photos of fast food. In addition, after a fructose drink, participants were more likely to choose a delicious snack rather than money and highly rated their cravings for high-calorie food.

    Despite the fact that there was no significant difference in the blood test after drinks with fructose and glucose, fructose significantly lowered the production of insulin. Insulin is produced in response to sugar consumption to help cells convert glucose into energy. But it also sends a saturation signal to the brain.

    Since fructose does not stimulate the insulin response, the body does not realize that it is already full, and continues to want to eat. Fast food stuffed with fruit sugar is better to refuse-regardless of what research inspired you to do it.

    More and more Americans visit fitness clubs... and more and more are obese

    News of the continuing growth of the global obesity epidemic has long been unsurprising. Especially when this news comes from America, where more than two-thirds of the adult population is already overweight.

    Published by the National Center for disease control and prevention (CDC) (see the image below), data on the situation with obesity in the United States can be expressed in two words: everything is bad. Much worse than it was before.

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    In 1985, the problem of obesity in most American States simply did not exist or was so insignificant that any data on obesity does not exist. 14 States had no more than 10% of residents who were obese, and 8 States had no more than 15%.

    There were no States where the percentage of obese residents was equal to or greater than 15%. But the situation deteriorated quite quickly. By 1991 the first such States had already appeared: Louisiana, Mississippi, West Virginia, and Michigan. By 1995, there were already about half of the country, and by 2002, 15% of obese residents were at a minimum – there was not a single state where their share was less.

    Fast forward to our time:

    There is no state where the percentage of obese people is below 20%.

    In only five States, 20-25% of the population is obese. In 9 States out of 10, more than a quarter of the population is obese.

    In 19 States, the rate of obesity is 30-35%.

    In 3 States – Arkansas, Mississippi, and West Virginia, obesity occurs in more than 35% of residents.

    The picture looks frightening and, if nothing changes, in a few years 30-35% may become a new minimum. And it is not just about being overweight, but about being seriously obese – with a body mass index (BMI) of more than 30. According to the CDC, 78.6 million people in the United States are obese – 34.9% of the adult population.

    According to the dietary dogma of recent decades, the problem is that people eat too much and move too little, i.e. there is an energy imbalance that is fraught with excess weight. But there is no reason to think that over the years, Americans have become terribly lazy, abandoned physical education and sports, and all together collapsed with popcorn on the sofas. It's just the opposite.

    In 1985, 19.5 million Americans were members of fitness clubs. Then it was 8.2% of the country's population. Since then, the popularity of fitness has grown steadily. By 2003, the number of fitness club members had doubled to 39.4 million (13.6% of the population).

    And by 2014, the number of regular gym users reached a record 54.1 million people – 17% of the population, or 24% of all adults, i.e. almost one in four (sources: 1, 2). Since 1985, the popularity of fitness clubs has more than doubled, and the turnover of the American fitness industry has exceeded 22.4 billion dollars (almost twice as high as in 2000).

    In terms of the number of members of fitness clubs, America is the world leader, ahead of both Europe (45 million members) and the Asia-Pacific region (17.4 million members).

    In general, if you believe the statistics, the Americans are becoming more and more athletic nation... and at the same time more and more obese. It would be foolish to say that increased exercise leads to an increase in obesity, but statistics indicate that at least they do not interfere with this growth on a national scale.

    Maybe Americans have just started eating so much more that no fitness will help them anymore? Yes, more, but not so much: from 1981 to 2012, the number of calories consumed per day increased from 3,200 to 3,900 kcal or 22%. But if we compare with the data for 1997-3,600 kcal per day, the growth will be much more modest – 8.3%. At the same time, the growth in the share of people who are obese during the same period is not modest.

    And this is not just an American problem: since the early 80's, the percentage of obese people has doubled, not only in the US but around the world.

    Interestingly, since the early 80's, both America and the rest of the world have begun to actively fight against natural fats – primarily animal and saturated – and replace them with carbohydrates and vegetable oils. It seems that the key to solving the mystery of the explosive growth of the obesity epidemic lies in plain sight. If so, this is the key to reversing these processes.

    Excess weight provokes 17 types of cancer

    By itself, the body mass index (BMI) does not say much: muscles, for example, weigh a lot, but this weight is good. And vice versa: it happens that a person’s weight is in order, but there is a lack of muscle mass and an excess of visceral (on the stomach) fat, barely noticeable to the eye. Such a person has a high risk of fatal diseases, although their body mass index does not tell us anything about this.

    Click on the image to see Video: Obesity and cancer: How can extra body fat cause cancer? | Cancer Research

    However, both are less common than the classics of the genre, when excess weight is equal to excess fat. And this extra fat is deadly. Among the complications of obesity, we rarely talk about the most dangerous – cancer. And for good reason, obesity really provokes many forms of cancer.

    This idea is clearly demonstrated by a recent study published in The Lancet journal by the National Institute of health in the UK. It includes more than 5 million people, 167,000 of them with some type of cancer. It turned out that of the 22 types of cancer that the authors studied, 17 types were clearly associated with excess weight.

    An increase in BMI by 5 units (kilo per m2) linearly increases the likelihood of cancer of the uterus, bladder, kidneys, cervix, thyroid, and blood. BMI is also associated with cancer of the liver, rectum, ovaries, and breast (in adulthood, after menopause) – and in general among all participants, and in the group of non-smokers.

    Oral and lung cancers were not associated with excess weight among people who have never smoked, and among smokers, there was an inverse relationship between weight and cancer: less BMI – more likely to have cancer (Hello to all smokers who believe that if you quit smoking, you will get better quickly). In total, about 40 percent of uterine cancer and 10 percent of bladder cancer cases are caused by being overweight.

    At the same time, the authors took into account many factors – gender, smoking, age, and menopausal status. Interestingly, even with a normal body mass index (from 18.5 to 26 units), the probability of cancer in a person was proportional to his BMI value. Simply put, a person with a BMI of 19 has a lower risk of cancer than a person with a BMI of 24, although both remain within the normal weight range.

    The tendency to obesity depends on the composition of saliva

    "Fast carbs" is actually a tautology, because there are no slow carbs. Starch and sugar from any food are digested much faster than protein or fat. That's why after any carbohydrate-rich meal, your blood glucose level jumps. Starch begins to break down as soon as you take a bite from a potato or bread – there are enzymes in the saliva that destroy carbohydrates.

    It turns out that the tendency to overweight depends on how active these very enzymes are. And what determines the activity of saliva enzymes? Obviously, this is an inherited property. Researchers from London's King's College just proved that people with fewer copies of the gene responsible for the destruction of carbohydrates by saliva are more likely to be obese.

    The results are published in the journal Nature Genetics, and the conclusion from them is this: nutritionists should take into account the genetic predisposition, including the genes encoding amylase – an enzyme in saliva.

    People with different saliva composition react differently to food, and now this is clearly proven experimentally. To prove this, the researchers analyzed data on 1,479 twins from the TwinsUK database, as well as 481 Swedes and 2,137 participants in the DESIR project.

    The fewer copies of the AMY1 gene found in a project participant, the greater their tendency to obesity. Previously, scientists have also been able to find a genetic link between obesity and eating behavior, overeating, and appetite.

    This is about the same as people who do not tolerate alcohol. It is known that representatives of many Asian populations lack the enzyme alcohol-dehydrogenase, which cleaves alcohol. As a result, a person quickly gets drunk, does not tolerate alcohol, and is prone to alcoholism.

    Similarly, as it now turns out, people with a low number of copies of the amylase gene are more likely to be obese (although the authors of the study do not yet undertake to describe the exact mechanism of this pathological pattern).

    Anyway, what are we supposed to do with this information until we can't have evidence-based personal diets based on genetic tests? You don't need to perform a genetic analysis to detect a tendency to fatness. And, if there is one, you don't need any additional arguments to just limit sugar and starch as much as possible. Complex science proves simple rules.

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