3 Solutions that Failed to Solve Obesity Epidemic
by Professor Jay Snaric
Two thirds of all Americans are overweight or obese. That means when you go to the mall for every ten people you see six will be overweight or obese. AMAZING! This number is growing. Soon seven out of ten people will be overweight or obese. It is now more common for adults in our society to be overweight and obese than in a healthy weight range. It’s not just adults, however. Obesity in children is also growing at alarming rates. The health consequences that these children face and are going to continue to face in their futures is a true tragedy.
Of course the obvious problem with obesity is that it causes major health problems. Obesity drastically increases one’s risk for Type II diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, cancer, as well as psychological illnesses such as severe depression and complete withdraw from family/society.
It is no exaggeration that in 100 years people will look back at this time and talk about the obesity epidemic and how it destroyed more people than any epidemic in history. Epidemics like the black plague and AIDS will pale in comparison to the devastation caused by obesity. We know fighting fat is not simple. We know that there is no one magical diet that will work for all. If there was a magic diet or pill there would not be an epidemic.
There does not exist an isolated answer (such as, a single diet, a single pill, a single exercise routine, a single self-help tape) to fighting fat, because fighting fat is such a complex problem.
Fighting fat with these methods – a single diet, a single pill, a single exercise routine, a single self-help tape, and surgury – has done two things:
1. Failed to result in permanent weight loss
2. Made a lot of people very rich
Millions of dollars are spent by consumers each and every year in hope of finding the solution to fighting fat. Unfortunately, all that is truly being purchased is the equivalent of a Band-Aid to fix a bullet wound. They are superficial fixes that do not attack the problem at the root, and therefore offer either temporary fixes or no fix at all. These are not profound observations. All you have to do is look at (A) the problem at hand, then (B) look at the solutions offered and employed, and finally (C) look at the results these solutions have provided thus far.
A. Problem at Hand:
- Epidemic that will soon be responsible for more deaths every year than any other preventable cause of death. This epidemic has been growing like wildfire over the past two decades, and continues to grow with no end in sight.
B. 3 Most Common ‘Solutions’ Offered and Employed:
1. Fad Diets
- cabbage diet, grapefruit diet, lazy diet, Atkins diet, 3 day diet, 7 day diet, 30 day diet, chocolate diet, fruit juice diet, low fat diet, South Beach diet, negative calorie diet, six times a day diet, one good meal diet, Hollywood diet, The Zone, Sugar Busters, Carb Addicts, Sugar Addicts, Jenny Craig, Dr. Phil, metabolism diet, protein power, glycemic index diet, fast food diet, Alien diet, etc.
2. Diet Pills (drugs)
- 2 classes
1. ‘All Natural’ drugs
2. Pharmaceutical Manufactured Drugs
2. Gastric Bypass
- Fad Diets
Fad Diets usually result in an initial weight loss, followed by a cycle of frustration, loss of motivation, and weight gain.
- Diet Pills – ‘All Natural’ and Manufactured
1. All Natural Products (pills, drinks, powders, etc)
One of the biggest money making marketing tactics over the past 10 years has been to attach the words “All Natural” to everything. For some crazy reason people think that just because something is from nature that it is, not only not harmful, but good for you. In addition, for this marketing technique to be really effective it must attack everything else as being a harmful chemical. You hear this all the time being stated as ‘Don’t put those chemicals into your body, instead use this all natural substance’. The whole thing is not based on any truth and potentially VERY DANGEROUS!
First of all, everything is a chemical. Have you every tried dihydrogen oxide? Dihydrogen oxide sounds like a pretty serious chemical doesn’t it. Well its common name is water. Water is made when 2 hydrogen atoms are chemically bonded to an oxygen atom – H2O. Life cannot exist without water. However, if you drink too much water you will die from water toxicity. Of course water can be toxic. Anything can be toxic, and everything is a chemical.
Would you eat arsenic, plutonium, mercury, or lead? Why not, they are all natural. Each one is a fundamental element found in nature. If you’re really interested in getting some arsenic you can find it in apple seeds. Do you know how many deadly poisons are produced in nature by plants alone? Many of your backyards are full of them. The bottom line is that it is INSANE and VERY DANGEROUS to think something is good for you and not harmful just because it can be found naturally. Do not let the “All Natural’ marketing tactic ever persuade you again! You know what I say about the ‘All Natural’ diet pills and all the other ‘All Natural’ marketing that is promoted by the powerful multi-billion dollar ‘health’ industry – BUYER BEWARE!
The truth is that the mechanism of most of the diet pills is that they contain some stimulant, most often a form of caffeine. For example, guarana is a very popular ingredient in many diet aids. Guarana is a climbing plant common to Brazil that produces a fruit that has about three times the amount of caffeine as typical coffee beans. The bottom line is that guarana is ‘all natural’ and it contains the stimulant caffeine. There are numerous names for caffeine. When found in guarana its called guaranine. When it’s found in the yerba mate plant it’s called mateine, and in common tea leaves the caffeine is called theine. They are all synonyms for the same chemical compound. All of these different names allow marketers to hide the fact that their products just contain a bunch of caffeine or caffeine metabolites.
Overall, stimulants do increase your metabolism which does result in burning more calories. Stimulants also raise your blood pressure, irritate your nervous system, cause your heart to work harder, and stress your cardiovascular system. In addition, over time, your body grows a tolerance to the stimulant and the only way to get the same effects is to increase the amount taken. As you can imagine, this can become very dangerous. Oh by the way, there is another popular plant leaf that contains an ‘all natural’ stimulant that increases your metabolism and helps burn calories. It’s known as cocaine. Are you getting my point?
2. Pharmaceutical Manufactured Diet Pills
Since weight loss is a multi-billion dollar industry, everyone wants to be involved. Big pharmaceutical companies are no different. They have big budgets earmarked for weight loss research and development. Their goal is to find a chemical that can be taken by overweight/obese individuals that will result in weight loss. The process to find a chemical such as this begins with research on lab animals, such as rats. If they find a chemical that shows positive results in the animals without causing evident harm, they move to the next phase which is human trials. Initially, the chemical will be tested on small groups of volunteers, or paid participants. If these early experiments show promise, then the studies become larger. If over time and over numerous studies, the chemical is shown to be effective – statistically – and not harmful – within reason – then the chemical will be deemed safe and effective for use by the general population. It will subsequently be marketed, prescribed, and sold.
This all sounds reasonable, but here is why this hasn’t led to solving the obesity epidemic. The studies are limited to a relatively small sample of the population. Just because there was positive results and seemingly no harmful side effects to this relatively small segment of the population does not mean it is going to be safe and effective for the population at large. Everyone is physiologically and genetically different. There are too many differences between people in the general population for one drug to be safe and effective for everyone. Have you ever heard of Fen-Phen? Fen-Phen is a combination treatment of two drugs Fenfluramine and Dexfenfluramine that was designed and touted as an effective and safe weight loss medicine. Well it wasn’t long before physiological difference among the population popped up, and the FDA was bombarded with reports of Fen-Phen causing heart valve disease. The final result, Fen-Phen was taken off the market, big law suits ensued, people were physically damaged, and obesity is still an epidemic.
1. Liposuction is a surgery where fat is sucked out from where it accumulates under the skin. This sounds pretty cool except for the fact that it is not a permanent solution. As soon as the individual begins to take in more energy than is being used their body very efficiently begins to make brand new fat cells to store the excess energy. In other words, this ‘solution’ ain’t going to last long if the eating behavior that got them to this point in the place is resumed after the surgery. Liposuction is merely a temporary solution.
2. Gastric Bypass is a surgery that makes your stomach smaller and re-routes portions of your digestive tract to physically limit the amount of food that can be consumed and absorbed. This option should only be considered by individuals in extreme cases with BMI’s that are over 40. After the surgery, the individual does usually lose weight. They lose weight because they are physically limited to what they can eat. If they overeat, which often means more than a few tablespoons of food in the beginning, they may vomit it up. They also have to be careful to supplement nutrients, as not to become nutrient deficient with the decreased nutrient absorption that results. Also, individuals who begin to eat as much as they had in the past will experience weight gain. So by itself, the surgury will only produce temporary results. It is up to the individual to change behavior to keep the weight off.
However, if a person does change their behavior, gastric bypass can be a realistic solution. It does offer someone who is in a desperate, life-threatening, situation an opportunity. And, if fact there have been many, many individuals who have successfully changed their lives after the surgery. But again, it does take a major change in postsurgery behavior to be effective. My Family Plate’s Weight Loss Plan for Parents may be a viable maintenance plan for gastric bypass patients. Of course, always consult your doctor first before starting any new diet or activity plan.
What do all these ‘Solutions’ have in common?
1. They are all a quick fix
2. They require very little effort on the part of the person attempting to lose weight
3. Someone is making money $$$
4. They are not effective in producing permanent weight loss.
In all fairness, a solution to any problem that is a quick fix and requires little effort is never going to be a permanent solution. Once again, there really is nothing profound being observed here.
We need change! If we are going to conquer this epidemic, we need to start doing things differently. We cannot attack this problem as we have been, because it obviously is just not working.