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Secrets from the eating lab chapter 5

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Chapter 5: Obesity is Not a Death Sentence
The author starts this chapter with telling about a study that was done with people’s initials with the purpose of concluding that if your initials spelled out something negative, like Peter Oliver Olson: POO, you’d have a shorter lifespan.

The study was done using the initials and how long people lived. Death is pretty much conclusive – one is alive or not. No other considerations, just how old they were when they died and what their initials were. Turns out those that had what would be thought of as negative initials died about 6 years sooner. Could those initials have really been the cause of death?

That is the point the author is attempting to make in this chapter, that obesity is not the true cause of a shorter life span. She goes on to state that there has been no study to actually come to the conclusion that obesity is the actual cause of health problems, that is the weight in and of itself. But she does go on to state that there are other differences between obese and non-obese people and that these differences may be the real reason for the health issues because some of these issues are developed in people of normal weight.

Differences that may be the cause:
• Physical fitness: being sedentary is known to have a detrimental effect on one’s health. There are studies to show the health effects of exercise: reduce the risk of diabetes, improve blood sugar control of diabetics, reduce mortality if one has heart disease and to prevent it from developing in the first place, lower triglycerides, raise “good” cholesterol, decrease blood pressure

• Weight cycling, ‘yo-yo” dieting, that is losing weight and gaining it back, losing and gaining etc. Obese people may do this more frequently.

• Socioeconomic Status, people with a lower standard of living have worse health issues, shorter life span, more diseases (cardio vascular, diabetes, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, respiratory diseases. The reasons for this is that those in a lower socioeconomic status have reduces access to good quality health care, they lead more stressful lives due to:
o Not having job security
o Financial obligations that are difficult to meet
o Lack of access to proper and adequate shelter and healthy foods
o Live in more dangerous neighbor hoods.

• Distribution of fat on Body, Metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of symptoms that occur together and put one at a higher risk. These symptoms include:
o High blood pressure
o High fasting blood sugar
o High triglycerides
o Low HDL (good) cholesterol
o Higher waist circumference:
 Apple body shape, fat is centered around the belly , – bigger belly= more belly (visceral fat) fat, the kind that gets packed around the internal organs , this leads to a higher risk, regardless of one’s weight.
 Pear body shape – fat is mostly on the hips and thighs, subcutaneous fat, this does not pose as great as risk

• Medical Care, some doctors often give unsolicited advice on weight management when a patient is being seen for a non-related weight issue, such as an ear infection. This may cause one not to go to the doctor for necessary care. If a doctor has a negative view of obese patients that in turn may translate into the care that they give that patient.

• Stress, there is a different stigma from being overweight that causes stress, often just by how one thinks others view them.

The Bottom Line
We are often warned about health issues of being obese. There are many noted health difference among obese and non-obese people. But there are also many different ways they differ beyond just weight.

In other words, obesity may not be the blame for health problems, but rather the real culprits are:
A. Lack of exercise
B. Weight cycling
C. Socioeconomic status
D. Fat distribution
E. Discrimination

Other factors may be the type of foods that one eats, such as more unhealthy fats and less healthy fiber, more artificial sweeteners, (which have been linked to increased levels of cardiovascular disease and glucose intolerance), more likely to use diet drugs (which can cause other issues), more likely to be lonely or socially isolated.

The author’s point of this chapter is that obesity in and of itself is NOT a death sentence. She notes that studies that do show obesity to increase death are often funded by those who have an interest in selling weight loss products or services. She lists Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Slim-Fast, makers of Xenial, Merida, and Redux as some of those who have funded these studies.In contrast, the biostatisticians who summarized mortality studies and found that obesity probably wasn’t going to kill you received little or no money at all.

She notes that if you incorporate exercise, eat nutritious foods, avoid weight cycling, and get good quality medical care, obesity most likely will not shorten your life span. She also mentions that having negative sounding initials to your name posed a greater risk of a shorter life span that being obese.

My note on this chapter: interesting reveal of studies that are done and who funds will make a difference of what information is given. Often it is not one thing in particular but a whole combination of other factors
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I am reading How Not to Diet by Michael Greger, the profit of his books go to charity. He explains using the latest findings in science that obesity definitely DOES contribute to very serious illness and a shorter life span. I tend to think he is right.
    44 days ago
    This is definitely "food for thought" pun intended. Is obesity a disease or a symptom? I definitely agree that the discrimination against the obese is rampant and deadly. Having family members and good friends who are morbidly obese, I've witnessed the isolation and stigma.
    45 days ago
    Getting funding for studies is hard - as Dr. Gregor says, "There's no such thing as Big Broccoli."
    46 days ago
    not quite buying it.
    47 days ago
    Good information, not the kind that comes from stakeholders who influence our health in ways that line their pockets.
    47 days ago
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