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General News    H4'ed 7/9/19

What is Behind U.S. Obesity? Not Just Too Much Food and Too Little Exercise, Research Reveals

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Diet Explains Only Part of the Obesity Crisis
Diet Explains Only Part of the Obesity Crisis
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A third of the U.S. population is now overweight, making it just a matter of time before normal size people are actually in the minority. Americans have so ballooned in size, government safety regulators worry that airline seats and belts won't restrain today's men who average 194 pounds and women who average 165 pounds, in a crash.

Not everyone agrees that obesity is always a health problem. You can be overweight and still have normal blood pressure, blood sugar, HDL cholesterol and other metabolic markers if you exercise, say some, pointing to former U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin who hiked the Grand Canyon in 2010 despite her extra poundage.

But others say fitness and exercise will not reverse the health effects of obesity. For example, the British medical journal The Lancet reported that rising obesity in the U.K. will cause an extra half a million cases of heart disease, 700,000 cases of diabetes and 130,000 of cancer by 2030. And the overweight and obese are 80 percent more likely to develop dementia.

And there other obesity "negatives." The obese are less likely to be employed, earn less than people of normal weight and "have more days of absence from work, a lower productivity on the job and a greater access to disability benefits," reports the Paris-based policy group Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

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Obesity raises Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance costs and affects national security, writes David Gratzer, M.D., on KevinMD.com, "since thousands of recruits are turned away from military service because of failed physicals and poor overall health." It also shortens "the lifespan of millions of decent Americans who deserve better," he writes.

Yet eating too much and exercising too little, considered the root of obesity, are not the only probable culprits. Here are some other factors that are often overlooked.

Depression and Depression Drugs

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Classic depression is characterized by a decrease in appetite, weight loss and general despondency. But in 1994, "atypical depression" debuted, a subtype of depression characterized by an increase in appetite and weight gain (as well as oversensitivity to rejection by others). Unfortunately, both types of depression are often treated with popular antidepressants like Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro and Paxil and antipsychotics like Seroquel, Zyprexa and Risperdal, all of which can pack on the pounds. To keep the weight gain from affecting Pharma sales, the pro-pill site, WebMD, tells patients that keeping the pounds off is their responsibility since only "healthy eating and exercise help control your weight gain." But it also counsels if the pill weight gain is "so strong that it simply can't be offset by any amount of calorie restricting or even exercise," the psychoactive medication "to help overcome your depression is far more important." To whom?

Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners, found in soft drinks, many diet foods and an astounding number of children's cereals for unclear reasons, may do more harm than good. While marketed and perceived as helping people avoid calories, they can have two insidious side effects: because they are sweet they encourage sugar craving and sugar dependence just like salty foods train people to crave salt, says research in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. And, because sweetness is "decoupled from caloric content," they fail to satisfy the sweets reward system and actually further fuel "food seeking behavior," wrote the researchers. See: giving starving dog a rubber bone. One artificial sweetener, Splenda also has molecular similarities to endocrine disrupter pesticides say food safety advocates.

Antibiotics

Noting that the average child in the U.S. and other developed countries "has received 1020 courses of antibiotics by the time he or she is 18 years old," microbiologist Martin Blaser published some disturbing suggestions in the journal Nature. By killing "good" bacteria with important roles in the body, "Overuse of antibiotics could be fuelling the dramatic increase in conditions such as obesity, type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, allergies and asthma," he reports. Yes, obesity. Mice given low-dose antibiotics that mimic farm use and high-dose antibiotics that mimic infection treatment in children exhibited preliminary "changes in body fat and tissue composition," says Blaser. Mice developed as much as a 40 percent increase in fat and a 300 percent increase in fat when given a high-fat diet too, extrapolated Alice Wessendorf on the research. Denmark researchers found eerie parallels in humans. Babies given antibiotics within six months of birth were more likely to be overweight by age 7.

Endocrine Disrupters

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Antibiotics are not the only widely used substances that may be associated with a host of human problems. Chemicals called endocrine disrupters, found in everything from canned foods and microwave popcorn bags to cosmetics and carpet-cleaning solutions and are linked to breast cancer, infertility, low sperm counts, genital deformities, early puberty and diabetes in humans and alarming mutations in wildlife. Many are aware of the endocrine disrupter BPA (Bisphenol A) banned in baby bottles and sippy cups in Washington state but given a pass by the FDA. But fewer realize that similar endocrine disrupters are found in flame retardants like phthalates and PBDEs, thermal receipts given out at stores and in "antibacterial" dish detergents and toothpaste. Like Tricoslan found in Colgate's Total. Endocrine disrupters may also be linked to obesity. Pregnant women with high levels of PFOA, one disrupter, were three times as likely to have daughters who grow up to be overweight, reported the New York Times Nicholas Kristof.

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Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by Random (more...)
 

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7 people are discussing this page, with 9 comments  Post Comment


Martha Rosenberg

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The obesity epidemic is not just about aesthetics--it is about health. Obese people are at risk of many preventable diseases

Submitted on Tuesday, Jul 9, 2019 at 5:03:27 PM

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Devil's Advocate

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I think the general food supply itself has become unhealthy.

With all the antibiotics, steroids, hormones, herbicides, pesticides, pollution and GMOs having invaded the entire food chain, food itself is now screwing with our immune systems and throwing off the balances our bodies need to stay healthy.

I truly believe there's now nothing we can eat that doesn't contain some form of regret. Meat and produce are totally compromised. The fish are all contaminated to some degree or another, and you can't even drink the water.

Even food that has been raised with great care and protection, either through organics or whatever, has had to make use of the poisoned water and soil you can no longer get away from. The poisons are now in the water table itself, perpetuated by the excretions of all species that have been ingesting and processing these contaminants.

Once the defense systems of a species are compromised, every subsequent generation evolves to be more problem-prone. I don't think this story ends well.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jul 9, 2019 at 5:40:14 PM

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Martha Rosenberg

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You're right. The water and soil subvert the "good farming"

Submitted on Tuesday, Jul 9, 2019 at 6:48:06 PM

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Doesn'r it all end up in a BAD BM? he he

Submitted on Tuesday, Jul 9, 2019 at 7:43:15 PM

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Recently it's been reported that obesity also raises cancer risk.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jul 9, 2019 at 6:55:33 PM

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911TRUTH

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I absolutely believe that our so-called 'food' industry is in collusion with the health industrial complex to keep us as fat and sick as possible in order to keep their profits endless and ever increasing. They both win big while we all lose big.

Like the joke goes:

What did they call organic food before the 1970's?

Food.

Submitted on Wednesday, Jul 10, 2019 at 4:37:13 PM

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If you need any evidence to substantiate your post, you need look no further that the Pharma Industry over charging for diabetes medication. Recently it was reported diabetics could no longer afford their medication, some even have to travel to Canada to avail themselves of that medication at a normal price. What more evidence do you need to realise the WAR that is being waged against you ?

Submitted on Thursday, Jul 11, 2019 at 5:53:29 AM

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I saw that story on PBS. It's disgusting and disgraceful.


Yet, because we have more bombs than anyone else, the American idiots chant We're #1! over and over like the brainwashed imbeciles they are.

Submitted on Thursday, Jul 11, 2019 at 4:09:44 PM

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Glers

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Obesity was never an issue until HFCS started replacing sugar in everything! that along with all the processed crap we can throw in the microwave at anytime of day is another factor

Submitted on Friday, Jul 12, 2019 at 1:17:18 PM

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