Sunday, June 24, 2007

Commenter objects to info on obesity and evolution

I received a feedback comment which accused me of telling "lies" in my article on evolution. This article was written with the aid and consult of a biochemist. The commenter was complaining that George Wald did not make the comment that Intelligent Design is logical but since it requires belief in a Supreme Being, he chooses to reject it (paraphased). I would like to inform the writer that whether Wald said this or not (and neither the commenter NOR I have any proof), the fact remains that several scientists who were once agnostic or atheist, have been compelled to adjust their beliefs because modern computerized calculations (those which were not possible even a couple of decades ago) have suggested to us that the chance of all of "this" happening randomly is small enough to be "nil". (beginning with the "big bang" which is now the generally accepted theory about the origin of the universe).

Dr Antony Flew is one example -
1. Objecting to the theory of the Prime Mover in 1976, Flew, in 2004, stated on TV that if the big bang means the universe had a beginning then we must ask what was there before that beginning.
2. Stating that the development of Life was random in 1976, Flew, in 2004, stated that the complexity of DNA makes it impossible for life to be random.

This is just one example - there are apparently several scientists who, in view of the updated calculations and information, have followed Dr Flew's example above.

The URL of the article on evolution is located at:

Next our commenter accused me of telling "lies" about obesity and quoted a page from ironically that same biochemist who provided me with information for the article on evolution (and I believe, the Wald quote). Obesity is NOT the biochemist's field of expertise and he was way behind on current information and studies on obesity (which I provided him but he refused to believe - that's his prerogative). However as a result of that discussion, I have provided a page which has the up to date information about obesity and is FULLY CITED from RECENT studies in peer reviewed journals:
If the commenter wants to review some of the source books (written by several scientists), I would recommend the following:

Kolata, Gina: RE-THINKING THIN (NY,2007)
Campos, Paul: THE OBESITY MYTH, (NY, 2003) or THE DIET MYTH (NY,2005)
Fraser, L., Losing It: America's Obsession with Weight and the Industry that Feeds on it, 1997, Dutton (New York)
Gaesser, Glenn, PhD:Big Fat Lies, Fawcett (NY, 1996, CA, 2002)
Colles, Lisa: Fat, Exploding the Myths, Carlton (London, 1998)
Pool, Robert: FAT - exploring the obesity epidemic (NY, 2001)

Websites: Council on size and fitness

I am always very happy when folks give me feedback so keep that feedback coming. :)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Obesity surgery safe for teens? Let's have a closer look!

So the latest scoop in all the papers is that an obesity surgeon, Dr Varela of the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Texas has reported on a study which suggests that obesity surgery is "safe" for adolescents. He presented his findings at the 2007 ASBS convention in San Diego.

The study apparently compared 309 adolescents aged 12-18 years (first 30 days post op) with 55,000 older patients who were likely mostly gastric bypass patients. The teens probably were mostly lap band patients which is significant since the lap band which does not involved any cutting or stapling or rearranging of the GI tract is thought to not interfere with the digestion process. By contrast, gastric bypass surgery in which most of the stomach and some of the small bowel is bypassed has a complication and fatality rate similar to open heart surgery i.e. 2 percent of patients die within 30 days of surgery (
(report delivered to the College of surgeons in Oct 21, 2003.[Study title: The Impact of Bariatric Surgery on Patient Survival: A Population-Based Study])

The finding of this study was that since none of the 309 adolescents died, bariatric surgery is "safe for teens".

Even if the teens did receive the safer lap band surgery, the study's conclusions are questionable. And one bariatric surgeon I asked about it, did opine this. He wrote that people should know that although lap band surgery can be done with reasonable safety, even healthy teens can and do die from it.

It's especially questionable to do surgery on teens since clinical studies (without the fatal flaws of the Varela study) have suggested that anyone can "get healthy" WITHOUT ANY weight loss at all by simply changing the life style to healthier food choices and frequent exercise. It is sad that with all we know about obesity and the fact that dieting can not only pose severe health risks but also doesn't work in the long run for 95 percent of the population... knowing all of this, parents are STILL advocating this as a good idea for teens, unfortunately, often encouraged by their medical providers.

It's clear that "the world" is buzzing about this study. The contact phone number for Dr Varela has been removed from his website and even those of us who could obtain it from cached web pages, found they were no longer answering their phones today.

And the scary thing about this study is that it's a well known fact that teens are obsessed with the need to "fit in" and really are not at all interested if how they accomplish this could have catastrophic repercussions in their adult lives. Statistics show us that there are more teens starting to smoke cigarettes today than there were in the 1960's before the dangers of tobacco usage were known. It is suspected that many teens smoke in an attempt to control their weight.

Teens seeking a quick solution (which obesity surgery appears to be, from the TV ads where teens obtain most of their information) and parents worried by the barrage of media items stating that obesity in children is especially dangerous (and suggesting that parents who do not starve their kids into slimness are abusive) seem an EXTREMELY fertile field for those who would like to sell obesity surgery - a large group of people who will NOT ask the HARD questions (such as the long term repercussions or efficacy of obesity surgery) and will not bother to do much research before making their decisions.

The ideal population from a marketing point of view.

I would hope that parents of teens pushing for Weight Loss surgery would do some research in better places than the news media. Here is one informed consent information website they can visit:

There are many facts which are not getting out through the mass media - for example, at the 10 year point,according to the Swedish Obesity study which is one of a very few long term studies of bariatric surgery, only 35 percent of gastric bypass patients were "cured of diabetes" at the 10 year point after surgery. (the surgeons claim a 70 percent cure rate immediately after surgery). Even more interesting is that fact that a full 33 percent of type II diabetics are not overweight and have never BEEN overweight - and this strongly suggests what seems obvious to some of us i.e. that genetics are the most prevalent factor in type II diabetes.

And if the teens want to fit in by obtaining obesity surgery, they should re-think this because part of fitting in is NOT having to vomit after visiting a restaurant with ones friends (or worse yet as numerous gastric bypass patients have described to me) suffering involuntary vomiting, possibly at the restaurant table (a small study of 10-15 year post ops observed that 68 percent complained about involuntary vomiting). That type of stuff will set them apart much more, I suspect, than even extreme obesity.

I keep remembering the article which appeared in the Denver news media a few years ago. A smiling young man was pictured and the article told us he'd had a very drastic type of obesity surgery which includes the cutting away of 75-80 percent of the stomach and the bypassing of most of the small bowel. He was still slim at the age of 22 (he had his surgery when he was 18) but the article stated he already had, at that tender young age, "severe osteoporosis".

As a surgeon friend of mine has said: "fat and healthy still trumps slim and sick!" I hope people will think out these decisions and review ALL their options before making their choices.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

diets in general

I love to hear different opinions... so I hope folks don't mind hearing MY opinion.... MEE not have an opinion? NAW.... *LOL*

OK, here goes.

The gospel according to me as it were.

First of all, I've studied a lot of diet books and just about EVERYONE regardless of WHAT diet they are on, says that they feel better on it.

I've come to the conclusion that the so called "American diet" which mostly consists of fast foods, junk foods, foods laden with chemicals, no veggies and lots of pop (which I've come to believe is a NON food) plus NON foods like donuts, well... all of this is SO unhealthy that just about ANYTHING someone switches to, regardless of whether it's the low carb, or the Maker's Diet or the Ornish low fat or vegan or ANYTHING is going to make your body feel better. Because most diets emphasize eating more veggies, NOT drinking pop, avoiding non foods like donuts and staying away from fast foods like Mickey D's and the non foods like junk food and potato chips and stuff like that.

So if people feel better EATING more healthy, it would stand to reason that they could do this and GET healthier WITHOUT the weight loss which is a strain on our bodies and organs and temporary for most folks. And in fact, a clinical study at the USC suggested just that - that folks on a healthy eating program and moderate exercise ended up (at the end of two years) healthier than those who dieted to lose weight! The program they were on is called HAES or Health at Every Size.

Second, the success stories we are constantly bombarded with on the media from ALL programs... you know the trip ... where they go on such and such a diet like Medifast, Slimfast, Jenny Craig, low carb, Weight Watchers, South Beach, the Maker's diet, Weigh Down or gastric bypass and lose all their weight to fashionably slim and tell everyone how wonderful they feel, how they can "buy their clothing off the racks", how they can "fit in carnival rides" (like we go to carnivals daily, right...) and all the usual catch phrases ... those success stories are a SMALL PERCENTAGE of those who go on whatever diet they are hawking.

They tell us that if we ONLY have the drive/character/guts AND we go on the "right program" (whatever program THEY are on), we, too, can lose the weight and enter the Nirvana of being slim for life.

The problem is that those who keep all their weight off through ANY program are NO MORE THAN 7 percent of the population and that's being generous.... 5 percent is the figure usually quoted, EVEN for the gastric bypass!

ALL studies show that 95 percent of us CANNOT keep off the weight and that it's all pretty physical. Fat people trying to keep a weight lower than their body desires start to exhibit the symptoms of starvation seen in normal people who are food deprived. Hunger, fatigue, obsession on food, BURNING 25 percent LESS calories per pound when they work out and more.

That's because the body produces a bunch of hormones to try and force us to regain the weight and one of these will make us fat REGARDLESS of what we eat.
Gina Kolata, NY Times science reporter who was one of the most ardent advocates of the diet industry, has written a book which is negative about dieting. Why? Because she researched it and found out the truth.

In her book, RE-THINKING THIN, Ms Kolata states that one of the things people trying to KEEP OFF their weight (through ALL methods) experience is what she calls "PRIMAL HUNGER", a hunger so strong that people are just about FORCED to eat something (she compares to breathing and how our bodies FORCE us to breath after we hold our breath for a while).

Most programs offer mind games to fight primal hunger. Gastric bypass patients tell themselves it's not REAL hunger because their bodies are just wonderfully happy on the restricted amount of calories they are eating per day - they call it "head hunger". Weight Watchers offers the 20 minute rule - if you want to eat something, wait 20 minutes and start doing something to heavily distract yourself from eating.

Weigh down tells people that when they experience this PRIMAL HUNGER, it's really that they need God and they are told to pray. The founder of Weight Down who keeps a very svelte figure, has written that she spends whole nights in prayer, fighting her body's desires to eat.

The bottom line of this is that when your body is THAT hungry and you force yourself, however you do it, to NOT eat, you end up spending all your time obsessing on food and the battle supreme to avoid feeding. And eventually, most folks get weary of the battle so they give in and eat.

They say being fat isn't a great quality of life but obsessing on food all the time, is LESS quality of life in my book. Afterall, "buying clothing off the shelf" (who cares) and "fitting on carnival rides" or even not asking for seat belt extenders when we fly.... these things aren't things we do every day. But we do LIVE every day and I don't know about you but I'd just as soon think about something other than food.

At 261 lbs I CAN think of other things... eating occupies a couple of hours of my day and the rest of the time, I ENJOY life, even BEING very fat.

Gina Kolata stated "if you are 75 to 100 lbs overweight, you probably will NOT be able to keep off the weight"

Rudy Leibel states that 95 percent of people cannot keep off the weight because of the "powerful biochemical system" which kicks in, defending the higher weight.

Bottom line - that we can control something which is apparently included in the "homeostatic"/ automatic systems of our body may be a myth... one many of us spend our lives chasing after .... (and spending mucho buckos on it). A myth which sometimes causes us to do unhealthy things to our bodies.

>>>Keep In Mind: Slender individuals have adult diabetes. Slender individuals have heart attacks. Slender individuals develop arthritis and have joint problems. Slender individuals have strokes and develop cancer. If obese individuals have these problems more commonly than the slender, it is because the same bad health habits just don't happen to cause obesity in some individuals "fortunate" enough to be slender no matter what they eat. They may be slender but they could very likely die just as early in life as someone who is overweight.<<<<
Kaiser Permanante Release form for gastric bypass/duodenal switch

Kolata, Gina: RE-THINKING THIN (NY, 2007)
Rudy Leibel information
Release form for gastric bypass:

Monday, June 04, 2007

TV show, "Big Surgery" is a big informercial

Possibly hitting bottom with biased shows on bariatric surgery, (weight loss surgery) is the new show on Discovery channel TLC entitled "BIG SURGERY".

This show pretends to be informational about the gastric bypass (only the gastric bypass is featured which is interesting because that's the OLDEST procedure still being done and carries the most risks). It is so biased in portraying the surgery like "a walk in the park" with EVERYONE getting slim and healthy from it that even several gastric bypass patients I know who are happy with their surgeries, are taking issue with it.

In the show, Father and Son bariatric surgeons, Drs Davis and Davis, are featured with some of their patients.

The older Dr Davis has assured the audience several times how "safe" the gastric bypass is. "I've never lost a patient from this surgery," he boosts in the opening episode.

This of course, is totally double talk. And here's the way he comes to that conclusion with a surgery which GUARANTEES a 2 percent death rate within the first month and another 2 percent death rate within the first year (under the best of conditions).

The only thing he "counts" as being death FROM the surgery is a death from a leak. And most folks who get a leak do not die from it if the surgeon is right on it and whisks them back to surgery to fix it and/or quickly inserts a feeding tube to bypass it until it heals which we can assume Drs Davis and Davis careful enough to do. (by leak we mean when the stapler misfires or somehow staples rip, allowing the contents of the stomach and/or intestines to spread into the abdominal cavity and causing serious infection, coma and disability and possible death).

What Dr Davis does NOT count as a death FROM THE GASTRIC BYPASS are things like throwing a blood clot (obesity is the cause of death there, as most M.E.'s will declare), or heart attack (obesity can be blamed there also) or a myriad of other things which of course, ARE connected to the surgery but since they occasionally happen to other patients, bariatric surgeons who wish to mislead, can make statements like Dr's Davis and Davis.

Dr Davis also told the TV audience that the gastric bypass prolongs the lifespan of the clinically obese people who have it.

How did he come up with the three studies, he says proves this? He didn't tell us but I can guess:

1. Study one: the study in which they computed the number of years the gastric bypass would add to a patient's life. They computed it would add 3 years. This was not an observational study of any kind - simply a projection analysis. (
Finlayson-Birkmeyer study presented at the Owen H. Wangersteen Surgical Forum 2002 at the 2002 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons in San Francisco)

2. Study two: the Dr David Flum study which compared 62,000 healthy fat people who got gastric bypass surgery at one hospital, to 2000 seriously ill fat people hospitalized for other reasons. He found that the gastric bypass patients had a 4.5 times greater chance of outliving the seriously ill fat people. Of course, had he compared the 62,000 healthy fat people hospitalized for gastric bypass, to 2000 seriously ill slim people hospitalized for other reasons, he would have found that gastric bypass patients also lived considerably longer than seriously ill slim people. A no brainer but many people did not hear how his results were found, just the results which can be very misleading. As an aside, Dr Flum's study also found that 2 percent of gastric bypass patients died within 30 days of surgery and another 2-4 percent died within the first year after gastric bypass. (report delivered to the College of surgeons in Oct 21, 2003.[Study title: The Impact of Bariatric Surgery on Patient Survival: A Population-Based Study])

I don't know what the 3rd study he quotes is, but you get the big picture. It's all about SPIN or what Orwell called "newspeak".

And the bottom line is, I would bet, after that first show, Davis and Davis's phones rang off the hook for prospective patients.

I went to the Discovery website and read the comments about the show. Many people wrote that they were not sure about weight loss surgery until they saw the show and now they know they are going to get the surgery. Which is exactly what this show is all about.

Those who research this surgery on the internet will hear another story.... like the many fat people I know who turned down the offer of weight loss surgery 20 years ago (despite the fact many were told they would die in 5 years without it). The fat people are alive and well today while their fat friends who had the bariatric procedures are ALL no longer alive.

The daily vomiting (some of it involuntary), the restrictions on many foods because they do not "go down" well, the additional procedures like bowel obstructions suffered by as high as 40 percent of gastric bypass patients - these will undoubtedly never see the light on this TV show, BIG SURGERY. Neither will the iron infusions (at least 50 percent of patients will require this for the rest of their lives and this procedure is done in the oncology section of the hospital so it's not all that trivial), the vitamin B12 shots which most patients will need (and will suffer greatly if they do not get), the protein drinks which they need to drink - none of this will be shown on BIG SURGERY either.

Finally, the fact that a full 30 percent of gastric bypass patients regain all their weight (or more) and 70 percent of patients keep SOME weight off (but only 50 percent of the excess weight) and only FIVE To SEVEN percent of patients can keep all the weight off and a portion of these are slim because they cannot eat - this will never be shown on BIG SURGERY either. (ref: Hebrew University study- 1992)

And because of this show, people will line up to hastily make a decision which may ruin their health for the rest of their lives. For the little "surprise" most people are never told about is that NONE of these bariatric procedures are reversible. And take-downs (where they undo as much as they can) only keep you alive - they do NOT cure the illness you may have gotten during the time you have had the surgery.

>>>You should be aware that as nutritional science advances, we are discovering that there is more to food and health than vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, carbohydrate and fat. Deficiencies in these nutrients resulted in rapid health effects that made them easy to identify. Nutrition science is now moving into new areas involving other more obscure chemicals in plants that have health effects that are more subtle and long term. This makes them harder to find, and their benefits difficult to document Most health studies are not done long enough to discover all outcomes. As these new substances are located and understood it will probably emerge that our stomachs have to be a given size just to take them all in. Because of this surgery, you will not be able to do so. Biologically, we have the G.I. tract we have for a reason. Changing it is purely experimental.<<<
(Kaiser Permanante Release Form for Gastric bypass and Duodenal switch)

>>>>Gastric surgery for weight loss causes nutritional deficiency in nearly 100% of individuals who have it done. The most common deficiencies are Vitamin B12, Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Carotene (beta-carotene and other carotene vitamins) and potassium. In the beginning patients will faithfully get their vitamin B12 shots and take their vitamins. After a while they flatter themselves that they are healthy and just like anyone else. They discontinue getting checkups. This is risky. A recent follow-up study done on gastric bypass patients showed that even 10 years later there were severe nutritional deficiencies. You are NEVER normal. NEVER.<<<<<

(Kaiser Permanante Release form for gastric bypass and duodenal switch/BPD)