Obesity, the weight of the nation, and what’s really behind the obesity epidemic

According to the well-intentioned yet somewhat Barn-Door-Oblivious HBO Documentary Weight of the Nation, the Center for Disease Control tracks the beginnings of our obesity epidemic to the early 1980s.
What else happened in the early 1980s?
Among other things, we began pillaging our diets of the NATURAL saturated fat and cholesterol that stabilizes our appetite and enables us to build hormones and maintain endocrine balance. Hormones have everything to do with appetite control and satiety and health.
We stopped eating stuff that nourishes.
And, apparently, some of us (coughsciencecough) lost the ability to hit the broad side of a barn door. Is the problem not obvious?
Yeah, a lot of other stuff happened then as well. Many folks look at (and demonize) the rise of processed sugar as much as they demonize so-called “bad fat.” They demonize “chips and sugary drinks.” But it’s ridiculous to look at the rise of processed sugar and so-called “unhealthy fried foods” without looking at the decline in naturally-occuring dietary fat and cholesterol. (And the rise in polyunsaturated fats in the diet.)
Don’t even get me started on the disaster of Orwellian proportion (extremely appropriate, no?) we’re facing with the governmental interventions on our food systems that can probably be traced back to the total mania caused by our ridiculous manufactured fear of fat and cholesterol.
Oh yeah, and this:
The man some consider the Father of the Diet-Heart Hypothesis pointed out that, in essence, we may have been looking at the wrong damn stuff when it came to the dangers of cholesterol. If I had more than three minutes to rub together, I’d rant more. Since I can’t, feel free to do so in the comments. Be sure to link to anything YOU’VE written (or read) on the topic.

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11 Responses

  1. I work at a senior center, and many of them were my age when this cover was published and the recommendations came out.
    You can just see how this advice has seriously backfired. Not only that, it’s tough to undo 30 years of propaganda and brainwashing by using reasoning and logic, and even recent studies. It takes constant reinforcement.
    I mean there are obese individuals and those with Type 2 diabetics that are shocked when I say eat all the whole eggs you want, organ meats and red meat are fine to eat and in fact very healthy. Yet, one look at their current health status should be all the evidence they need. Yet, we are still bombarded weekly why these foods are bad for us.
    It’s sad, yet infuriating.

  2. Both of my elderly parents (89 &85) are in a nursing home with various degrees of Alzheimer type dementia. I firmly believe their diminished mental capacity and health is directly related to the low fat, high carb diet they have indulged in for the past thirty years. I’ve been Paleo for the past 18 months and can only hope I’ve caught my decline in time.

  3. Here’s a few articles I’ve thrown together. I feel amazing the more of this stuff I eat. The way I write pretty much explains that.
    Cholesterol meds are for dummies: http://musclegeek.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/cholesterol-meds-are-for-dummies/
    Bacon is a health food: http://musclegeek.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/bacon-is-a-health-food/
    How bad is saturated fat and cholesterol? The final word: http://musclegeek.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/how-bad-is-saturated-fat-and-cholesterol-the-final-word/
    Why you should eat cholesterol and saturated fat: http://musclegeek.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/why-you-should-eat-cholesterol-and-saturated-fat/

  4. awesome post! there are so many nutrition myths that desperately need to be debunked.. I actually just finished extensively researching the paleo diet and wrote a blog post summarizing my findings. I would be beyond happy if you read it and had any critique! But I know you are super busy!

    1. Thanks Lauren! I will do my best to check out your blog as soon as I have a few free moments! The next few weeks are terribly busy as I wrap up multiple projects, but later in the summer may be better…

  5. Whenever I feel like upsetting myself, I go read something a Vegan wrote. I ended up muttering to myself in a bookstore the other day when I read the first chapter of a book called “Crazy Sexy Diet”. Strike one: the foreward was written by Ornish. Strike two: the author strongly suggested that the average female (135 lbs) does not need more than 20g of protein a day, because protein is not really necessary in the human diet.
    Ho-ly f**kballs

  6. It’s funny you posted this this week. THIS is what I had to say when a friend posted on facebook that Quick Weight Loss Center (UUGGGHHHHHH) told her she wasn’t getting enough fat-
    “The fear of fat in America is ridiculous. Look where low fat diets have gotten us. Higher cancer rates, more obesity, higher blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes statistics. Enjoy healthy fats- avocado, coconut oil and real, full fat coconut milk (from the can, not the carton), real cheese, real yogurt, nuts and whole chicken. Yes, even the skin. Fat is necessary for the brain to function, and keeps the gut healthy, it’s all the processed crap that is killing us.
    June 7 at 8:23am”
    When will people GET IT? I fear never and it makes me crazy.

  7. As a scientist, I’d have to say the ushering in of the 50s industrialization along with reduced exercise, more calorie dense foods and a whole host of other things screwed it up for everyone. That’s why scientists (me included) have a hard time distilling it (as well as climate change) down to 1 causal thing. Just remember correlation doesn’t mean causation and the same can be said here. However the evidence does support that increased lipid storage especially for those with the muffin tops was never present until late 70s. Thus it would suggest that the conditions were present already to permit such a drastic shift in the phenotype (outward expression of your genotype (genetic makeup)). It is well accepted that metabolic imprinting by the mom can play a crucial developmental role in the energy homeostasis of the fetus despite its genetic makeup. So it definitely answers some things while bringing up more questions.
    As a side note I work with leptin. A crucial circulating adipokine hormone expressed in proportion to adipose content in humans. I am using zebrafish to try and understand it in an ectotherm but if we sit back and look across vertebrate evolution or even just across large vertebrates in general we see a plethora of body shapes that can either switch energy storage on or off (hibernating animals) as well as animals who use it for insulation (beluga whale and seals), and it definitely brings to light the idea of what is healthy and how can other animals “cope” with a different energy homeostasis paradigm. Those chronically obese have a dysregulation in leptin signaling such that they don’t produce leptin. This gives the brain a mixed signal indicating that the body is starved and should eat more to replenish it’s fat stores. However this case is maybe 1% of all chronically obese patients. The situation more often observed is leptin resistance which is comparable to diabetes. Essentially the patient makes leptin but does recruit enough receptors to make the presence of the protein functional to cause all the downstream effects such as lipolysis. Fear not we are trying to understand leptin signaling (and we know alot in human, mouse, and rat) but we still ne to understand it across all vertebrates because maybe we are missing something. I mean look at the advances we now know about because of other animals: c. elgans (replication), drosophila (development), squid (axon), e.coli (evolution rates). There is still a lot to learn about the architecture and complexity of the energy signaling system.

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