Thursday, December 20, 2007

Big Medicine revisited

People may remember a blog I wrote in June 2007 in which I accused the TV show "BIG MEDICINE" of being an infomercial for weight loss surgery.

In retrospect, now that I have watched the first season of this Discovery channel show twice, I will say that if you watch it carefully, it actually shows some instances which give a clue about how risky this surgery (gastric bypass) IS.

For example, the one large lady in the last or second to the last episode who was rejected for WLS, was told by Dr Garth (the young WLS surgeon) that he did not feel it safe to operate on her because she lived too far away and did not have any family to support her (she had moved from one of the Southern states to Houston in hopes of getting the surgery). He went on to say something about how he had to bring one of his recently post op gastric bypass patients back to the hospital four times and pointed out to her that if that was her, living an hour away from the hospital, she could die.

In another show, Dr Davis senior remarks that the gastric bypass is basically creating a situation of malnutrition in a patient and that SOME patients would be better off remaining fat. Big admission.

And finally, each episode has one patient who has HAD a gastric bypass and ended up with very little muscle tissue (the body in starvation in the quick weight loss period eats its own muscle to obtain the protein it needs on a daily basis - if it did not do this the patient would die). These 1-4 year post ops especially the larger weight losers were shown sans clothing and looked like melted candles with a very unusual shape. Some needed several plastic surgery procedures and STILL after all of that pain and work (and risk) felt the need to cover up their bodies.

I have heard this from countless patients... those going in with a looks expectation especially, that they say they looked worse AFTER surgery than before.

A sad thing especially as some of the muscle which has been wasted in the starvation/quick weight loss period does not seem to be able to be rebuilt (perhaps because even when the weight loss stops, there are still hundreds of nutrients which gastric bypass patients cannot digest and cannot supplement through injection or sublingually).

So the bottom line is that I think the show has the potential of informing prospective patients about things they might not think about or read about before but unfortunately many will see only the end story which is the usual gushy "I'm so happy now, I can buy clothing off the shelves, I can ride on carnival rides" which one hears from some of the new post ops.... these stories tend to make people forget all the darker possibilities in their desperate hope that this surgery will magically heal them of obesity.

I did receive a letter responding to this blog which I'd like to share with you. It's obviously from a gastric bypass new op and reads:

Wow - This is some great research. To site articles from 15 years ago. Hate to tell you, but surgery has advanced since then. Also doctors such as Drs Davis will not do surgery on patients just because the want it. The patient has to meet certain criteria. You make it sound as though a person who is 20lbs overweight will get this surgery, then die. I'm certainly glad you have no weight issue yourself. Otherwise you might know what it feels like to be sick and in pain all the time. Oh and by the way-My surgery was a success, and I plan on keeping it that way. I did my research so I know how to make that happen.
I would like to respond here. I quoted three studies - one dated 2002 and one dated 2003 and true, the Hebrew University Study in 1992, however, studies published later such as the Swedish Obesity study published in the NEJM Dec. 23, 2004 issue showed similar results as to weight loss (or lack thereof). At the 10 year point, the 541 patients who were available for followup, had only kept off an average of 16 percent of their original weight. (BTW, that same report stated that only 35 percent of the diabetic patients were still - at the 10 year post op point - "disease free").

SOURCE: New England Journal of Medicine: Volume 351:2683-2693 December 23, 2004 Number 26
Lifestyle, Diabetes, and Cardiovascular Risk Factors 10 Years after Bariatric Surgery
Lars Sjostrom, M.D., Ph.D et al

And earlier in 2007, the ASBS, (the weight loss surgeons professional organization) in endorsing a new revision procedure called "STOMAPHYX", admitted that 30 percent of gastric bypass patients gain all or most of the weight back (thus the ASBS felt there was a need for this procedure which is less invasive than other types of revision).

It should be noted that the inventor of the gastric bypass, Edward Mason, who after his initial follow up has recommended people have RESTRICTIVE ONLY surgery (like the gastric band) because of the inherent vitamin deficiencies of the gastric bypass, has written several articles with that recommendation, one of the most recent ones being in 2003 for the U of I healthletter, reminding that we know a lot more now, about the digestive tract than we did in 1965 when he adapted the gastric bypass from the 1880's billroth II surgery - this article included the following:

Bypassing the first part of the intestine interferes with normal absorption of critical nutrients and causes complications related to vitamin and mineral deficiencies such as anemia (iron deficiency) and metabolic bone disease (calcium and vitamin D deficiency).

These side effects led Mason to develop a simpler procedure known as vertical banded gastroplasty, which he began performing in 1980. Vertical banded gastroplasty reduces the region of the stomach that can initially receive food, but does not alter the rest of the digestive process.

" The future of weight loss surgery rests in greater use of simple stomach restriction procedures like vertical banded gastroplasty, which preserve the normal weight-maintenance mechanisms of the body," Mason said. "If simple restriction procedures did not produce sufficient weight loss, it was always my inclination to work with the patient to solve other problems affecting weight loss rather than going to a more radical procedure."

The writer of the letter assumes I have no weight problem myself. This is only partially true. I am, according to BMI standards, 120 lbs overweight but this is NOT a problem for me. Overweight does not automatically mean "sick" just as much as slim does not automatically mean "healthy". The writer apparently managed to miss the many studies including one published recently which point out that fitness determines lifespan and NOT fatness (or thinness). This study which hit the news on Dec 4, 2007 (even discoveryhealth news - home of the National body challenge DIET and Dr Oz of "You on a diet" fame) clearly suggested (AGAIN) that a fat person who exercised regularly was expected to live MUCH LONGER than a slim person who did NOT exercise and that the amount of exercise a person does predicts lifespan REGARDLESS OF WEIGHT.

So have I fought the battle of weight all 63 years of my life - the answer is yes but because I have also exercised for the last 14 years without stop, my weight is NOT a problem. See - weight but not a "weight problem".

I must say however, that the so called "risks" of obesity even in a person who does NOT exercise seem basically unproven. That is, although there are a bunch of epidemiological studies suggesting a fat person is under greater risk of illness etc there are an EQUAL amount of epidemiological studies which suggest that being under risk more involves things like being HUMAN and/or what we eat and/or how much we exercise rather than whether we are fat or not.

Finally the writer of the letter assures me that SHE will NOT fail with her gastric bypass because SHE did the research before and knows how to do the aftercare.

Surely if she remains faithful to all the rules suggested for post op gastric bypass patients including regular exercise, protein drinks and B12 / B6 injections at least once a week, and she gets a measure of luck mixed in, she has a better chance of avoiding serious repercussions at least for the first several years or so.

However, that being said, I also know gastric bypass patients who did all of the above but just by the luck of the draw, ended up fighting rather difficult health issues like post gastric bypass hypoglycemia (that's where you can "dump" i.e. feel faint and ill - after every meal) and bowel obstruction. I also know gastric bypass patients several years post op who have faithfully exercised and strictly watched what they ate and STILL regained a significant amount of weight.

How the body will react in the long run to such a drastic "re-plumbing" of the digestive system is unknown before the surgery which is why the American Medical association warned physicians to alert patients about the "unknowns" of the surgery to avoid lawsuits and the "ethical haze":

"The ethical haze surrounding bariatric procedures is not unknown in surgery", said Laurence B. McCullough, PhD, a professor of medicine and medical ethics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.

"This is the classic problem in surgery-innovation without the research to guide it. So all this should be brought under experimental protocols," McCullough said. "That's how you handle the conflict of interest make sure you tell the patient, 'The procedure is investigational; we don't know if it will help you."'

1762 JAMA, April 9, 2003-VoL 289, No. 14
In that same issue of the Journal of the American Medical association (JAMA), they commented that although the early results are impressive, the repercussions and even whether the weight stays off are unknown:

" Short-term outcomes are impressive-patients undergoing bariatric surgery maintain more weight loss compared with diet and exercise. Comorbidities such as type 2 diabetes can be reversed. But long-term consequences remain uncertain. Issues such as whether weight loss is maintained and the long-term effects of altering nutrient absorption remain unresolved."

1762-JAMA, April 9, 2003-VoL 289, No. 14
I thank this gastric bypass patient for reading my blog and for writing to me and wish her the best of luck with her surgery.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New "Prevent childhood obesity" initiative forgets some things

Today we got the news that Laura Bush (our First Lady) saluted the announcement of a new initiative to prevent "childhood obesity" and promote "healthy weight".

Although I generally like the Bush administration, what I do NOT like is that they are even MORE in bed with the pharmaceuticals and the diet industry than are the Democrats. I guess they really believe in this stuff because the President with a healthy cholesterol level of 170 is , believe it or not, exposing himself to muscle weakness risks and cancer risks by taking one of the statin drugs.

There are two problems with the childhood obesity "epidemic". Judging on 2 large survey studies (you know how accurate epidemiological survey studies are.... NOT), the CDC came up with the following:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, data from two National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) (1976-1980 and 2003-2004) show that prevalence of childhood overweight is increasing. For children aged 2-5 years, the prevalence increased from 5.0 percent to 13.9 percent; for those aged 6-11 years, prevalence increased from 6.5 percent to 18.8 percent; and for those aged 12-19 years, prevalence increased from 5.0 percent to 17.4 percent.
Well that's all well and good but even the worse stats such as those for those kids aged 12-19 years old put "obese" kids at a MINORITY. 19 percent obese means that 81 percent of the kids ARE NOT obese.

The other problem is, of course, that the BMI scale, an outdated inaccurate scale which was invented in the 1850's which does NOT take into consideration, muscle, gender or bone mass, puts many who are NOT obese into the "obese" area...

Finally when we think of "obese" we think of those very large kids like "the Maury Show" features from time to time (you know the ones they put in diapers and give donuts to before they show them on TV and berate the parents for "childhood abuse"?). But "obese" is medically defined as any BMI over 30.

For example, some very slim but muscular Hollywood stars and many Olympic athletes are also classified as "obese" (including the governor of California).

So no one is really sure whether those "classified" as "obese" by weight are really obese or just very muscular and/or big boned.

In any case, by any measurement, the majority of kids ARE NOT OBESE. Has anyone asked the question, why start a weight based initiative when MOST of the kids are not obese?

What this is ESSENTIALLY doing is making ALL kids including the non obese ones, utterly paranoid about BECOMING obese. Disturbing reports from the UK and Australia, both of which have stressed weight based initiatives against "childhood obesity" stated that a raising percentage of kids 12 and up are dieting, vomiting, starting smoking and doing other unhealthy things to avoid the "dreaded" obesity because the bottom line is that any kid who has a "normal" BMI will be accepted as living a healthy lifestyle REGARDLESS of how that "normal" BMI was attained.

One of the kids on a "National Body Challenge show" who was very slim asked their nutritionist why HE had to eat the "healthy food" because he wasn't fat. I have met several people who feel that they don't have to eat healthy because they are not fat therefore they assume they are healthy. Also several people who smoke who feel they are healthy because they are not fat regardless of the fact that smoking is directly associated with 400,000 deaths a year and 95 percent of chronic lung disease.

When I was a kid, they were hung up on the one number classification of IQ. Despite the many drawbacks of IQ tests and the numerous talents they do NOT test (IQ scales were never meant to be a one number fits all), children were judged and branded by their IQ number and many children were emotionally scarred for life because of this judgment. Now the one number gauge of worth is BMI.

So have these initiatives inspired kids to exercise or eat more veggies and eschew fast foods, potato chips, French fries and the like? NO WAY! Kids are MORE sedentary today than ever, they fill up on junk food and fast food and avoid good food.

So if we THINK we are giving kids the message they ought to live eat more healthy and exercise more, we are badly mistaken. The message we are giving kids is as long as they are slim, they can be as sedentary as they want and stuff junk food all day and all is ok.

Meanwhile, we are seeing outbreaks of childhood diseases which were only a memory in my day, like whooping cough, among vaccinated kids, and even things like cancer and sudden heart attack are on the rise in our kids. Maybe, just maybe, a factor in this might be that they are undernourished for fear of "obesity" (which 81 percent or more never had to worry about anyway)?

One wonders if society will ever learn to use their brains. Or are THOSE brains getting starved out also?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

BBC investigation shows obesity crisis to be overblown!

We used to believe scientists and what they told us. We used to
believe official reports. Now it turns out that, more often than not,
they are telling us nonsense. We just want the truth. Sensationalist
scaremongering used to be confined to the tabloids. Now it's done by
every quango and official body in an effort to justify their existence.
Tim H, UK (comment about the "obesity epidemic" media blitz)

A new BBC program states that the "obesity epidemic" risks may be way overblown, and points out that childhood obesity statistics were not based on real data but on projected and computed data (the largest children regardless of size would be called "extremely obese").

The investigators also state that "most teachers they talk to" have NOT seen this vast amount of obesity in the schools! (neither have I seen "all these obese kids" - most kids I see in school today are painfully slim with the same percentage (or less) of obese children we saw in the fifties in each class - 1 to 3 kids)

Further, continues the investigation, the estimations of the "cost of obesity" in Britain (from a well publicized report) were computed on an error which the author of the report admits but said it made "little difference" (and the error was never corrected). Turns out the error DOUBLES the figures (incorrectly) in places.

The Foresight report put the cost to the UK by 2050 at over
45bn(pnds) a year, almost half the NHS budget.

But Radio 4's The Investigation found the estimate was based
on a misreading of figures from a parliamentary report.
The report's author admitted to the programme that he had
made an error but claimed that it made little difference.
The calculations were based on a Commons Health Select
Committee Report which estimated that in 2001, obese
people cost the NHS 1bn (pnds) a year.
But the calculations for the Foresight report failed to
notice that figure doubled to 2bn (pnds) when allowing for the
costs of both obese and overweight people.

Another British govt report found that:

The increase in obesity will have surprisingly little impact
on period life expectancy of the population

Finally, although a British study attempts to "show" that obesity raises the risk for cancer, the real statistics show that there are no more deaths from cancer in the obese than in slim people.

(If this "obesity epidemic" is threatening us with diabetes, why is it that in the last several decades though the INCIDENCE of obesity has doubled, the NUMBER of cases of diabetes has remained relatively the same with only a few more reported cases now than several decades ago?)

You can download the investigation podcast here:


Friday, November 02, 2007

Obesity and Cancer - Food and Cancer

Actually if you read the news articles about the Report claiming to "prove without a doubt" that obesity is a serious risk factor for cancer, which I understand has been making the headline news for many days, you might get the impression that it talks about obesity alone. But the report which is available at View/Download report actually only has one chapter on obesity although mini rants on obesity and cancer are woven into the report in several other places. And what I found while perusing the actual report is that the news claims about it, far exceed the real thing - the report talks about probabilities mostly and does not provide any new information (although they take hundreds of pages for their non informative report).

According the excellent analysis article on the Junk Food Science blog, these scientists somehow avoided including the largest and one of the most respected studies done on cancer risks called the "Women's Health Initiative". It seems, the blog continues, that they left out quite a few important studies, all of which did not agree with their desired premise i.e. that obesity causes cancer.

They do admit that they are guessing why fatness might raise the risk for cancer (and they also admit that fatness LOWERS the risk for pre menopausal breast cancer). Here is the excerpt:

There are several general mechanisms through which body
fatness and abdominal fatness could plausibly influence cancer risk. For example, increasing body fatness raises the
inflammatory response, increases circulating oestrogens, and
decreases insulin sensitivity. The physiological effects of obesity are described in more detail in Chapter 8. The effects of body fatness-related hormonal changes and inflammation on cancer processes are detailed in box 2.4
In searching for box 2.4, referenced throughout the paper, I found that their big theory is that fat is chronically inflamed due to the fact that fat tissue stores macrophages. But this is a connection which has not been proven to be bad and in fact, fat people tend to have LESS cancer and when they DO get cancer, they survive chemo better than slim people. (Gaesser, BIG FAT LIES, CA, 2002 for one). Also in the pig study, it was strongly suggested that the bodyfat in a pig helped NOT only protect against infectuous disease but ALSO against cancer - the opposite of what this new report is claiming (the pig study was one which did NOT make front page news of course).

Based on studies of pigs, researchers said, that fat helps fend off illness.
Besides keeping a body warmer, fat cells, or adipocytes, produce hormonelike proteins in reaction to invading toxins, behaving much like immune cells that fight disease.
"Adipocytes can be functional and beneficial without creating obesity," said Michael Spurlock, an animal sciences professor at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.
Writing in the American Journal of Physiology, Spurlock and colleagues from the university's veterinary school said fat cells play a role in helping insulin regulate blood sugar levels and can aid the immune system's response to cancerous cells. (American Journal of Physiology, Jan 2004)

Stephen Milloy points out in his article debunking this study that:

scientists don’t really understand carcinogenesis very well. It’s known that the risk of cancer increases with age possibly because of the deterioration of DNA repair mechanisms and a few well-documented risk factors, such as family history of cancer, heavy smoking, and exposure to certain viruses and some exposures to radiation. Outside of those and perhaps a few other risk factors, the occurrence of cancer is largely inexplicable.
There are many of us who might have noticed that the groups which seem to get the most cancer are

1) slim people
2) dieters (i.e. I have known MANY people who lose a great deal of weight and THEN come down with cancer!)
3) smokers
4) for the female cancers - those on birth control medication (placed on the FDA list of cancer causing chemicals in 2004)

This report offers some insights on the whys and wherefores of cancer which may be, according to the American Cancer Society, as much as 85 percent LIFESTYLE related. And because of the erroneous information on obesity and the constant admonitions to "maintain a healthy weight" as determined by BMI, a scale invented in the mid 1800's which does not take bone mass, muscle or even gender into consideration and is, according to the CDC, suggesting weights which are "underweight" and thus not healthy for many people, I fear some of the good things the report has to say might be missed by all in the media's frenzied effort to sell us - yet another - diet.

Most cancer is preventable, the report tells us. Considering that in 1900 they reported 210 cases of cancer in the USA and even when I was a tot in the 1950's, cancer was a relatively rare disease, one does wonder about how much IS preventable. However the suggestions by the researchers seem over simplified and missing quite a few key factors which have been identified as carcinogenic in many other sources. Here's what they say:

Most cancer is preventable. The risk of cancers is
often influenced by inherited factors. Nevertheless,
it is generally agreed that the two main ways to
reduce the risk of cancer are achievable by most
well informed people, if they have the necessary
resources. These are not to smoke tobacco and to
avoid exposure to tobacco smoke; and to consume
healthy diets and be physically active, and to
maintain a healthy weight. Other factors, in
particular infectious agents, and also radiation,
industrial chemicals, and medication, affect the risk
of some cancers.
But making healthy food choices, a balanced diet containing fiber as well as a lot of veggies but low in saturated fat and avoiding transfat completely will likely reduce the risk of cancer as will as little as 20 minutes of walking, 4 or 5 times a week. However, the report's caution to avoid red meat again has no real foundation in science and in fact, red meat may have some micronutrients which are not found in other foods and even in other meats. Obviously if you eat nothing BUT red meat that may not be healthy but avoiding it altogether might be equally unhealthy. Red Meat is a good source of vitamin B12, the lack thereof which can cause neuropathy and more.

Also my bet is that the scientists totally ignored that some 94 worldwide studies suggested a strong link between the artificial sweetener, "aspartame" or "nutrasweet" and cancer especially leukemia and brain cancer!

As for maintaining a healthy weight, science STILL has not determined what IS a healthy weight for most people (but the CDC noted that people with BMIs in the overweight range seem to live longer than those in the "normal" (BMI 22-25) range.

In 2005, the CDC reassessed their data and found that 112,000 people (not 300,000 people) had died from obesity related diseases however, they also added that since people with BMIs in the overweight zone (BMI 25-29) live longer than those in the "normal ranges", one had to subtract 86,000 from the 112,000 and that leaves 26,000 people who die from obesity related disease... less than who die from gunshot accidents!

Report on CDC and healthy weights and obesity deaths

It should also be noted that for 95 percent of the public, maintaining a "healthy weight" (according to BMI) means yo yo dieting or weight cycling which has been STRONGLY suggested in many clinical studies to not only RAISE the risk for most illness but also raise the risk for heart disease as well.

I haven't heard the news stories (I don't listen to the news - because it's so filled with lies) but I would bet that they DON'T AT ALL, emphasize the suggestion in the report to exercise cardio 30 minutes daily, which is a very good idea for all of us regardless of weight.

My bets are that this study was supposed to be the "piƩce de resistance" - the study no one could argue with but since there are already two fine articles debunking the study's claims, perhaps it may fall short of its expectations and merely provide news headlines perhaps scaring a few fat people into Weight Loss Surgery.

Bottom line, this report provides nothing new, and a lot of wrong information about obesity AND cancer yet leaves out some of the most IMPORTANT information about carcinogens in the environment and in the foods we consume. In short it is just the usual rant against obesity cloaked in a different format and published for one reason alone... to sell diets and news papers. ho hum....

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Most kids dieting or calorie restricting

A survey of 500 teens in the UK revealed that 33 percent of girls between the ages of 13-18 years old are dieting however, 50 percent of the girls admitted to eating less than 1200 calories a day (under the excuse of "eating healthy"). The suggested calorie intake for a growing teen is at least 2000 calories and 3000 calories for boys (some of whom were eating 800 calories or less per day). (see )

Many adults are ignoring the need to look like a concentration camp victim but teens are taking these messages seriously and confusing being super slim with healthy. The same survey found that less than 25 percent of the teens were eating the proper amount of vegetables - most were eating less than 2 portions a day of veggies.

Other surveys have found that more teens are starting smoking today than in the 1960's before all the dangers of cigarette smoking were known. Most teens start smoking in an attempt to control their weight. But those same kids exercise very little when at least 60 minutes of cardio daily is recommended for children to stay healthy. One little boy on TV, a participant in one of those health - lose weight shows, told the nutritionist that he doesn't have to eat well and exercise because he's slim. This is the common misconception that TV is giving our kids.

All this dieting and calorie restriction may be one reason why autoimmune disorder is becoming that "epidemic" that obesity never was. Or why whole schools of vaccinated kids are coming down with whooping cough. Dieting is a known challenge to the immune system even in adults - imagine how it might devastate the immune system of a growing kid.

I took a 10 year old shopping for clothing this weekend and she was painfully aware of her size.... and wanted to squeeze into a smaller size which didn't fit her just to avoid the larger size. She has a large frame and is of endomorphic bodytype but her size in the 1950's when I was in elementary school would have been considered "normal". Today in our efforts to make our kids boney, her size is larger than average.

Worried parents, concerned at all the TV messages about "widespread obesity in children" are, it seems, ending up giving their children grief if they are even slightly larger than very slim. One young girl who is a bit chunky told me that her slim sister is allowed to eat candy but she is not allowed. That same young girl told me that she skips lunch most days in school because she "doesn't like the food".

But as one RN told me, only 1 in 5 children is overweight or obese. That's 20 percent of kids who are overweight or obese which means 80 percent of children are NOT overweight or obese (and many that I see in school are painfully slim) and that is even by the very narrow measuring of the BMI scale which does not take bone mass or muscle mass or gender into consideration. Since when is 20 percent an "epidemic"?

We know from the experience of the very obese adults that many of them GOT that way from ruining their metabolisms as kids dieting...

So when do we stop punishing our kids for being healthy?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Obese children - what is abuse?

If we would listen to the media, we would put our kids on a diet, at the first sign of any fat we see. Unfortunately, our medical providers might agree with dieting our kids and look smilingly upon the parents for doing this. Weight Watchers has special programs where a kid can attend meetings for free with a member parent and get the same treatment which would include weekly weigh-ins and sometimes includes fat phobic advice.

How sad that today so many parents regard healthy kids with a bit of fat on their bodies (or even a lot of fat on their bodies) as our forefathers regarded lepers or severely disabled.

I am reminded of a comment made by Jerry Lewis in trying to raise more money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association at the 11th hour of the telethon.

"Would you like to be saddled with a crippled child?" he asked his audience by way of telling them if not, they should give more money. I wonder if today's parents would ask "would you like to be saddled with a fat child?"
And of course, the ultimate we are seeing more and more often is weight loss surgery for kids at a time when they NEED all their vitamins and nutrients. Sometimes kids get a lap band which at least allows normal digestion but also, sometimes kids are given gastric bypass which causes a lifelong illness of their digestive system.

One doctor opined that these surgeries may have an impact on children's health in adulthood. Understatement of the year.

One news interviewer asked a young person who had had a Lap band placed, if she was exercising now and the parents said she was joined up with a gym but when the parents were asked if she had exercised before she got the lap band, they both said "well... no"

Often I have seen that parents and doctors do NOT seem to be emphasizing healthy food choices for kids, only LESS Food and to be slim. I have two teenage grandkids who began smoking to control their weight. Most people DO begin smoking for that reason.

Having sat on the phone with a 48 year old woman who got weight loss surgery in her early 20's, mostly because of parental pressure and having her, now, ill in bed from the repercussions, weep bitterly and tell me how her mother didn't love her because she was fat, I think the physical repercussions of weight loss surgery, liposuction and dieting for any young girl, are nothing compared to the psychological trauma she may face later on.

And as the Swedish Obesity Study has shown us, weight loss surgery patients after 10 years, had only kept off an average of 16 percent of their original body weight.

We should really question this business of dieting our overweight kids - is it a type of abuse where the parents, albeit well meaning, might induce physical and psychological trauma for life? This might well end up in the wasting of a life and all because of a bit of extra bodyfat. A girl who is not using her talents because she is so busy with the hard work of dealing with stomach surgery to maintain a weight that is acceptable to a society which values not much more in a woman than the way she looks.

Read this and weep, for our children are suffering.... Will the insanity ever stop?

NOTE: for an update of Brooke Bates, please read blog of June 16, 2008.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Actually fat people live longer than WLS patients, suggests study

Those researchers on the Swedish Obesity Study (one of the studies which the news media is using to "prove" that gastric bypass patients live longer than fat people), admitted that they did not randomize the study and thus they could pick and choose which fat people they wanted in the study (in the control group which did not receive WLS). The fat people chosen had 25 percent more heart disease and 6.3 percent more diabetes than those chosen to receive WLS.

So if all things had been even, there should have been 25 percent more deaths in the fat (no WLS) group than in the WLS patients.

But there was only 1.3 percent more deaths in the fat group despite the 25 percent more heart disease. Which means the fat people survived better than the WLS patients.

So much for media spin. It should be mentioned that the Swedish Obesity study was HEAVILY funded by several American pharmaceutical firms and Johnson & Johnson (which makes surgical instruments and gastric bands).

For a detailed analysis of the studies visit this blog.

For my blog on this (in August) visit here.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Do gastric bypass patients really live longer than fat people?

In the last couple of days, the headliner news has been that two studies have suggested that gastric bypass patients live longer than fat people.

"Weight loss surgery patients are SIGNIFICANTLY LESS likely to die prematurely" stated an article in the Washington Post.
"This is HUGE!", commented Dr David Flum, to the Washington Post. Dr Flum is a bariatric surgeon.
"It's going to dispel the notion that bariatric surgery is cosmetic surgery and support the notion that it saves lives," boasted Dr. Philip Schauer, another weight loss surgery surgeon who has been prominent in the news articles denying the negative repercussions of bariatric surgery.
"The question as to whether intentional weight loss improves life span has been answered," wrote George Bray, a known enthusiastic advocate of the diet industry.

All well and good but do the two studies they quoted really prove their point?

The answer is no.

In the Swedish Obesity Study (reported in NEJ Dec 23, 2004, vol 351, no. 126) , although 11,000 people applied to be included, only 3900 were accepted to receive weight loss surgery in 1987 when the study was initiated. A matched equal number of controls were selected and given diet advice. The cohort was examined at the 2 year point in the study and at the 10 year point.

At the 2 year point (2 years post op for the weight loss surgery patients), a goodly portion had been "lost to follow up" and only 2010 patients (out of the original 3900) were examined. It's likely that most of these were gastric banding because that was the more often done procedure in the 1980's. Two years is obviously NOT long term follow up.

At the 10 year point, only 627 of the original 3900 were left to examine - the rest had been "lost to followup". And of these 627, only 34 were gastric bypass patients. Of the rest, 400 some were vertical gastric banding and the remainder were adjustable banding.

Since only 16 percent of the weight loss surgery patients were available to examine at the 10 year point, this study poses more questions than answers including the usual question "where are the others?"

Well, we got sort of an answer on this one. Apparently, the 85 percent could be tracked as far as whether they died because of Sweden's nationalized health care records. But that they were "lost for follow up" suggests that their results were even less impressive than the 641 they COULD follow up - i.e. those folks available for follow up had only kept off an average of 16 percent of their weight!

So lets talk about the deaths. A fine analysis by a medical expert solves the mystery. The fat people had a 1.3 percent greater death rate which works out to 100 and some more deaths in the 3900 fat people than in the WLS patients. BUT, apparently, according to the researchers on the the Swedish Obesity study, they did not randomize the study which means instead of taking a random section of fat people, they could pick and choose. And pick and choose they did. Turns out the fat people chosen for this study had 25 percent MORE heart disease, 6.3 percent more diabetes than did those chosen to receive WLS and also the fat folks were an average of 1.5 years older than those who got WLS.

So the S.O.S. if properly interpreted, suggests the opposite of what the news told us... that fat people live significantly longer than WLS patients (and keep in mind most of the cohort in the S.O.S. were gastric banding which has a much lower death rate than gastric bypass). Why? Because there was 25 percent MORE heart disease in the fat people but only a 1.3 greater incidence of death! (To be even with the WLS patients, the fat people should have had a 25 percent greater incidence of death). That causes a hmmm, doesn't it? For details of the analysis please visit here (it's a great blog and you might want to read all the posts!).

The second study took place in Utah. Here 7925 gastric bypass patients were compared to 7925 fat people. The fat people were selected by weight recorded on their driver's licenses.

Researchers found that there were 108 more deaths in the fat people than in the gastric bypass patients (231 deaths in the fat controls, 113 deaths in the gastric bypass patients).

This study seems to have all kinds of problems in my book. First of all, who puts their real weight on their driver's license? Secondly there seems to have been no contact with any kind of medical records on the fat people... the deaths were taken from the death certificates on file. So we have no idea whether the fat people chosen to be the controls were smokers (greatly increases their risk) or yo yo dieters which greatly increases the death risk. We also have no idea of whether they exercised or not which greatly DECREASES the risk of death in people of all sizes. (REF: Lee CD, Blair SN, Jackson AS. Cardiorespiratory fitness, body composition, and all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality in men. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1999 Mar;69(3):373-80)

Secondly with regards to the gastric bypass patients, the followup was only 7 years and the serious repercussions of vitamin deficiencies and nutrient shortages in gastric bypass tend to show up after the 10th year post op. Basically this was NOT a long term study.

So these two studies don't prove ANYTHING about longevity after gastric bypass.

And also, the end weight results of both studies were a bit disappointing to some gastric bypass patients. At the 10 year point patients had only retained an average of a 50 - 60 lb weight loss (for those 350 lbs to start with and up). And only 35 percent of patients were still "diabetes free" so the weight loss surgery didn't work really well for diabetes either, it seems.

Meanwhile the ASBS, the professional organization for bariatric surgeons, has renamed themselves to include "metabolic diseases" in anticipation of greatly increasing their client base to normal weight diabetics.

I guess since Edward Mason, the inventor of the gastric bypass, left their presidency, they might have forgotten that the reason he thought a "billroth II" (predecessor of today's gastric bypass) would work for fat people was because normal weight patients after a billroth II could not keep their weight at anything close to normal!

Also the expected lifespan (for normal weight patients) after a Billroth II was 15 to 25 years. Since modern medication and treatment there is no expected shortening of lifespan for type II diabetics.

As far as the news media's exaggeration of these NON findings from the two studies, a quote by Stephen Milloy comes to mind:

"But who needs data when you can spoon-feed junk science to a gullible media?"
- Steven Milloy, Fox News

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

How the Biggest Loser lost 214 lbs

Erik Chopin, 36 years old and winner of the "The biggest loser", revealed in an interview on Fox news how he lost 214 lbs. This was in response to the story on how the cold virus might cause obesity.

"So did a virus cause YOUR obesity?," asked Neil Cavuto
"Well, I don't know," said Erik, "but that would be nice if they'd make a vaccine for obesity - would have saved me a whole lot of work!"

"It's exercise and cutting the calories", Erik said, in answer to how he lost the weight, "Anyone can do it!"

Well, not exactly. When asked HOW MUCH exercise he did, Erik admitted that he did 4 or 5 hours of cardio exercise daily. "It was pretty intense," he admitted, " Basically, while I was on the show, it was my job!"

He apparently continued this killer workout program for a couple of months after he returned home but now has to go to work in a regular job - probably because of something silly like the need to have money to live. So he has geared down his program, he told the reporter... he only does 1 hour of running a day.

And from the tape we watched, he has definitely gained back some weight, so I guess his running one hour a day didn't keep off all the weight as the reporter said it had... The collage (above) shows Erik how he looked after he lost 214 lbs and how he looked a few days ago (in the black shirt) as he appeared on Neil Cavuto show.

One thing which strikes me about all of this. How come when people tell us fat folks "all you have to do is slightly cut the calories and walk for 20 minutes a day and the weight will come off", why did Erik Chopin have to work out 4 and 5 HOURS a day (and cut the calories) for HIS weight to come off?

So anyway, there you have it. Just work out 4 and 5 hours a day and if you are 36 years old, YOU TOO, can look like Erik Chopin DID after his stint on the Biggest Loser. What? Don't have the time? Have to work and do other things besides exercise? Older than 36 years old? Details details.... :)


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Your fat friends can make you fat? III

The full text for the New England Journal of Medicine, "fat is contagious" study is available for free at this url:

The collection of the data seems hit or miss - individuals in the cohort were apparently asked to identify spouse, sibs and at least one close friend. Over the years, some individuals choose a different close friend.

The closest ties of friendship were viewed when two individuals chose each other as close friends. This was identified by the researchers as a "mutual friendship".

The problem with this is the "social network" of any given individual includes far more than merely ONE close friend but rather up to 30 or more close friends. Thus it might be said that the original information which the researchers fed into the computer in order to derive this analysis was erroneous and thus this would make the resulting analysis, invalid. As we say in the computer field "garbage-in/ garbage out".

Also, their results suggested that sibs were LESS likely than friends to "cause" or "influence" obesity in other sibs and spouses were the LEAST likely to influence their spouses as far as weight.

From observation, this result seems very erroneous... spouses OFTEN influence each other's weight as they share mutual cooking, often recreate together and enjoy similar interests... and sibs more often than not, show the same body type as other sibs due to shared genetics... so it seems like their computer generated results came out backward from what the reality might be....

Finally the last sentence of the conclusion is most troubling. From this erroneous study based on a false picture of the social network of the cohort (a picture which only depicts members of the cohort as having only ONE close friend at any given time), these researchers concluded that:

"This highlights the necessity of approaching obesity not only as a clinical problem but also as a public health problem."

It's almost as if this "study" builds and analyzes a false picture of the social network of the individuals of the cohort to come to a conclusion with political overtones based on what is a buzz word to many Americans i.e. "public health", the implications of which in the extreme, could lead to treating overweight people like lepers were treated in the past. That is, falsely portraying obesity as a "contagious disease" in order to perpetuate the ostracism of anyone who is overweight. Hopefully society is not that insane - yet, but this type of thing is a bit chilling to think about, to put it mildly.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Why Am I fat.... Everyone knows why - they THINK

A recent issue of the Discovery Health Newsletter, lists 7 reasons why we are not "losing weight" and it says the usual things ... not having breakfast, no exercise, drinking too much, eating at your desk, skipping all fats, eating late at night and cleaning your plate.

Somehow, in reading this type of stuff for the umpteenth time, it touched a raw nerve in me. I would like to observe that many of us very fat folks DO ALL the right things and STILL do not lose weight. And many slim folks do ALL of those (wrong) things above and don't gain weight or gain very little weight.

Many people actually believe that fatness is mostly caused by overeating and not exercising. Despite the fact that a huge percentage of the public regularly overeats and regularly does not exercise and STILL are not very fat - only 15 percent of the population is clinically obese.

I personally know two people in the 500 lbs range who REGULARLY exercise and have not lost much weight - one lady who was swimming a mile several times a week (and being a swimmer I KNOW how many laps that is ... a LOT) And I even know personally a few gastric bypass patients who have a very restricted diet and exercise daily and are still weighing over 300 lbs!

So why is society so clueless? I think because they are NOT genetically obese and don't understand what it's like. And perhaps because many fat people also believe the myth that they "made themselves" that way, not realizing that however they have overeaten, if they didn't have the right set of genes they would NOT be the size they are (and most of them perceive themselves overeating much more than they really do).

Call me a hopeless optimist but I believe that armed with knowledge, we people of size can change society through a grassroots education effort .... but first we must believe in ourselves!

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has"
Margaret Mead

Friday, August 03, 2007

Latest insanity against people of size

Seems the latest insanity from some insurance companies is to force people not at a certain weight or cholesterol level to pay an extra amount of bucks per month for insurance or to give them a ridiculously high deductible like $5000 a year.

...Starting in 2009, Clarian Health Partners will charge employees as much as $30 every two weeks unless they meet weight, cholesterol and blood-pressure guidelines that the company deems healthy.

Employers are getting serious about penalizing workers "because they've run out of other options" said Joe Marlowe, senior vice president at Aon Consulting, a national benefits consulting firm.

Locally, the Los Angeles Unified School District, which has 90,000 employees, is researching financial incentives and disincentives to help bring down healthcare costs.

UnitedHealthcare, a nationwide insurer, introduced a plan this month that, for a typical family, includes a $5,000 yearly deductible that can be reduced to $1,000 if an employee isn't obese and doesn't smoke.

Last summer, a similar plan was offered to county workers in Benton County, Ark. The $2,500-a-year deductible can be reduced to $500 if a worker meets low height-to-weight ratios during yearly on-site physicals. (According to federal guidelines, a man who is 6 feet tall is considered obese if he weighs 221 pounds or more. A 5-foot-6 woman is obese if she weighs more than 185 pounds.)

Thomas Dunlap, the county's benefits administrator, said the plan had witnessed a nearly 30% drop in claims — and provoked changes in the workplace.LA Times story
Well, of course they received a reduction in claims... if there is such a high deductible... hello?

I wrote to the reporter of this LA Times story pointing out the following:

It's a well known fact that:
  1. heart attacks happen in people with all cholesterol levels- high and low
  2. statin drugs to lower cholesterol levels have umpteen side effects
    1. significantly raise the cancer risk ..see
      2. (talks about risks of lowering coQ10 levels
    2. cause muscle problems and now are suspected to raise the risk of type II diabetes
  3. obesity by itself isn't a risk - it's the LIFESTYLE which causes the risks i.e. fat and slim couch potatos have a 40 percent greater risk of heart attack than slim and fat exercisers (Cooper Institute studies of 29,000 people for one)
  4. Forcing people to diet is not only fruitless since 95 percent regain the weight within 4 years of losing it but also:
    1. Weight cycling or yo yo-ing weight increases the heart attack risk by 50 percent
    2. Dieting itself, not only increases heart disease risk but other risks as well even if the so called "risk numbers" improve
I have a better idea to cut costs! If the insurance companies discontinued financing all the unnecessary surgeries being done which are both expensive and in some cases (like gastric bypass) extremely risky and riddled with complications which are expensive to treat, they could not only significantly lower their costs but also improve health - if that was what they were interested in.But I think rather they are in bed with the docs and hospitals to make money and making the public pay MORE for it and could care less about public health.

I was contacted today, by a 31 year old who just had a gastric bypass. When she saw the list of possible complications which her doctor gave her AFTER surgery, she freaked out. "I have 3 children and don't want to be sick" she said to me, weeping over the phone and added "how can they call this surgery 'lifesaving'?"

It should be noted that the so called "risk numbers" which these insurance companies are demanding to be low or else they are overcharging clients - these risk numbers are also low in terminal cancer patients and AIDS patients but can we really say they are less at risk for comorbitities?

This new insurance scheme seems just another way of raising the rates of the average person to increase the revenue for the medical and pharaceutical industry.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Hanging out with fat people can make YOU fat - 2

I know I already did a blog on this study but since it is an ongoing news item, I feel compelled to talk more about it, what the scientists might have meant to do (which was totally misunderstood partially because of an error on the part of the scientists) and more.

This study published in the New England Journal of medicine, which found that having fat friends raised the probability of YOU gaining weight, was likely, originated to point out that if you 'hang out' with friends who like to go out and eat huge gourmet meals, you are more likely to gain weight than if you have friends who are on a diet and eat at "soup or salad". And indeed, the Washington Post's "Lean Plate" club addressed the study from that angle.

However, the way that the study was done rendered the findings, invalid. The researchers used methods not appropriate for that type of study, and data which was generalized existent data and therefore lacking many details which might have changed the outcome (called a "data dredge" study). And the news media took the study in a more global sociological setting, instead of realizing what the actual bottom line of the study was probably meant to be i.e. that being around friends who indulge in a lot of rich eating OR drinking to excess OR using party drugs or gaming or hunting or playing music can be an influence on how much YOU indulge in these things. That's kind of a no brainer and one cannot help asking why they needed a study to prove that!

It also wrongly assumed that if you have friends who enjoy eating a lot of food, they will likely be fat. In truth, as an overwhelming body of scientific research has suggested, fatness may be as genetic or close to it, as the color of your hair.

For example, if you have ever seen those eating contests, most of the people IN THEM are slim and only one or two are very fat, thus suggesting that many people can eat large amounts of food without it affecting their girth.

Unfortunately, what this study published in the NEJ may do, is, effectually promote discrimination against people of size possibly because the researchers SPECIFIED fat people instead of more correctly specifying people who enjoy eating a lot of food which can include fat OR slim people. But then, using that generalized set of data, how would they discern how much the individuals of the cohort ate? It was a quick and sloppy solution to assume that it was the fat people who were the ones overeating - but a quick and sloppy solution tends to result in a quick and sloppy study with invalid conclusions. That's a no brainer also.

It should be noted that in the (unpublished as yet) Williams studies which polled catering companies, used to cater the conventions for fat activist groups, the researcher, educator, Russell Williams, found that 50 percent of the caterers stated that the fat people at the convention ate the SAME amount as those of the general population at other conventions and 50 percent of the caterers stated that the fat people ATE LESS food than those of the general population! The study is still, as we speak, ongoing...

Noteworthy was an article which highlighted a group of studies overwhelmingly suggesting the genetic underpinnings to size and fatness:

>>The report released by the New England Journal
> of Medicine is flawed. These ...researchers took collected
> data from an existing study whose focus was not on weight and size,
> the same study just used to report that diet soda is just as bad for
> you as regular soda, did some data mining and presented selected
> results tailored to support their own prejudices. None of their
> statistics are standard. ...
> As an example of the misinformation, this report stated, "The fact
> that the increase in obesity during this period cannot be explained
> by genetics." More and more legitimate research is finding the
> genetic link to size. Let's look at an example. Studies by Dr.
> Albert Stunkard of the University of Pennsylvania showed that:
> * 70 percent of the variation in peoples' weights may be
> accounted for by inheritance, meaning weight is more strongly
> inherited than nearly any other condition, including mental illness,
> breast cancer or heart disease.
> * There is a clear relation between the body-mass index of
> biologic parents and the weight class of adoptees, suggesting that
> genetic influences are important determinants of body fatness.
> * There is no relation between the body-mass index of adoptive
> parents and the weight class of adoptees, suggesting that childhood
> family environment has little or no effect on body size."
> * Identical twins have nearly identical body mass indexes,
> whether they have been reared apart or together.
> Bob Schwartz, author of Diets Don't Work found that by putting his
> thin clients on weight-loss diets, they gained weight. Maybe we
> should take a closer look at the influence of weight loss dieting.
> Quite possibly when thin friends go on diets with their fat friends
> to lend their support, they end up gaining weight. It has already
> been proven that pounds lost plus additional pounds are regained
> after one has stopped the severe restrictions of weight loss dieting
> in more than 95% of dieters

from a press release from

I hope that people will not take this study seriously except for what likely was the original intention - choose your friends wisely - if you spend a lot of time with friends who are gambling, chances are that's what YOU will be doing with them which may or may not be how you REALLY want to be spending your time. In the same vein, if you have friends who love to do dinner and serve large amounts of gourmet food, you may be faced with either sitting there and watching them eat or over-indulging yourself. We have a slim friend who is a gourmet cook and always wanted to invite us for dinner. When we went I ate sparingly - he got insulted and never invited us again. Oh well. :)

If you want to spend more time exploring this study further, here are some excellent resources:

Friday, July 27, 2007

Fat Friends make you Fat?

We have heard of photo-shopping photos to make them look like we want them to look. And they can also photo shop movies. Remember the one with the telephone booth? They ADDED the New York street AND the traffic - it was actually, filmed in a studio. Amazing what computers can do. Amazing how computers can create a reality which looks ALMOST real.

For example, if you look at the image to the left, it looks like it was taken from a skyscraper but no, it's just two photos put together. Wonderful, fun but not reality!

Well, it seems that in this latest piece of fluff published in the New England Journal of Medicine which declared that fat friends make you fat, the scientists have PHOTO-SHOPPED old data to prove something so shocking, it was the subject of 300 news articles.

They apparently used computer analysis software to create a computer animation inputting selected existent data (called in the business, a "data dredge" study) to come up with what they reported as the results of the study.

Meaning it's about as accurate as a photo-shopped photo!

Somehow the news media calling this "study" a "breakthrough study" reminds me of the sports commentators calling biker, Floyd Landis' dope enhanced stage win in last year's Tour de France, "the ride of the century".

Here is an EXCELLENT analysis of this so called "study" - a must read - "What a tangled web"

And photo-shopping is fun - I do it myself. Just as long as we don't start BELIEVING the false results of our photo-shopping!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

is there a childhood obesity epidemic 2?

I received an interesting email from Rae this AM. I'll reprint it here because it's important what she said:

Wow. I can't believe anybody would question whether or not the childhood obesity crisis is real. And, Sue, I find it amazing that you haven't seen more overweight children in the schools. When I was a child, there was maybe one "fat kid" in school. Now they're everywhere!
Regardless of what that site said, the truth is that 40% of children 5 to 8 years old show at least one heart disease risk factor, including hypertension; the first signs of arteriosclerosis are appearing at age 5 (as opposed to age 30, which used to be the case); and adult-onset diabetes is now called Type-2 diabetes because it's become so prevalent in children. Not long ago, the Centers for Disease Control determined that American children born in the year 2000 face a 1-in-3 chance of developing diabetes!
I could go on and on, but then I'd be writing an article and not a blog posting. The childhood obesity crisis IS real and becoming more of a problem every year. And unless we believe that, generations of children will be in very deep trouble.
Rae, I really appreciate your concern and would like to answer your comments, for you brought up important issues, basically about 40 percent of children, 5-8 years old showing one heart risk factor - you mentioned atherosclerosis, hypertension and diabetes being prevalent in children.

I would like to discuss your email point by point because I think you are expressing what a lot of people feel.

First, when considering the cardiac disease risk factors, we should keep the following in mind:

  1. Compared to 20 years ago.... but wait we cannot compare. Even when I was bringing up our son, things like blood pressure were NOT MEASURED in children so how do we know that the "slimmer" children of 30 years ago didn't have the same risk factors
  2. Whether things like hypertension and even "the first signs of atherosclerosis" are even risk factors is not totally agreed upon. For example the so called "risk numbers", blood pressure, c-reactive protein and cholesterol are also low in terminal cancer patients and AIDS patients and surely we cannot say THEY are under less risk
  3. Heart Attacks happen EQUALLY in people with all levels of cholesterol (Please see:
  4. Type 2 diabetes has been called that since my slim father-in-law had it 50 years ago. He had never been fat in his life. In fact 33 percent of type 2 diabetics have never been fat in their lives. Type 2 diabetes is caused by a genetic situation in the muscle cells called "insulin resistance" and of course, since it IS genetic, if YOU TEST KIDS, a certain percentage of them will show up as that. Years ago, we didn't test kids for insulin resistance either - again we cannot compare.

You mentioned the CDC statistics - lets DO talk about them for they can change. For example in 2004, the CDC stated that obesity deaths were at 300,000 a year and predicted that within the next few years those figures would be higher than deaths from smoking. But the VERY NEXT YEAR, when they reassessed their figures, they reported that obesity deaths were REALLY ONLY 110,000 a year (not 300,000) and the "link was weak". They also reported that people in the overweight and obese BMI's (BMI 26-35) were LIVING LONGER than people in the so called "normal weight" categories (BMI 20-25). Dr Flegel, the lead scientist stated that perhaps the so called "normal weight" BMI's were actually UNDERWEIGHT for most people which is why those in the overweight and obese BMI's were living longer. Please see:

Now, where did they get the 300,000 deaths a year in the first place you might ask. Well, in 1993 the McGinis-Foege study found that THE LIFESTYLE FACTORS of being too sedentary (not exercising enough) and "poor food choices" had CONTRIBUTED to 300,000 deaths a year. (cite: JAMA 270 - Nov 10, 1993 pp 2207-2212) Since those lifestyle factors were thought to cause obesity also, the study was mis-interpreted as a finding that OBESITY was causing those deaths. This idea that poor lifestyle factors cause obesity is in the process of being de-bunked as we speak because the fact remains that many many folks who are very SLIM have those lifestyle problems also.

BUT, it is true that lifestyle factors CAN cause or be a contributor to heart disease in BOTH fat and slim people. The 30 year studies of the Cooper Institute on 29,000 people found that fat and slim exercisers are at 40 percent LESS RISK than fat and slim couch potatoes and that the risk factors of being fat did not differ significantly from not being fat.

I said the idea of poor food choices making you fat is being debunked. In the movie, "Supersize ME" based on a real experiment, Morgan Spurlock, a slim man ate 5000 calories worth of McDonald's daily for a month. He did not gain a significant amount of weight (he is a naturally slim man) but he DID develop the beginnings of Cirrhosis of the liver and hypertension EVEN THOUGH his bodyfat level was 17 (the low end of perfect for a male) and he was in the normal BMI weight category. Many people who watched the film missed that part. But if you view the film again, you will see this in the doctor's reports. CLEARLY SHOWS that these cardiac risk factors can and DO appear in normal weight people and are NOT associated with obesity but rather with poor food choices and lack of exercise (which is exactly what many studies have found!).

By the way, in "SuperSize ME", Morgan met up with a guy who eats double portions of MacDonald's daily and guess what - he, too, was slim!

If you watch TV (I'm sure you do) it will seem like super fat people are in the majority but the statistics tell us that only 15 percent of the public is very obese and less than 5 percent are "morbidly obese" so that means that 85 percent of the public IS NOT OBESE and 95 percent of the public is not "morbidly obese". But when they TALK about obesity on TV, 85 percent of the headless waistline shots they show us are from the 15 percent of the population!

Finally let's talk about fat in general. We tend to compare to the 1900's when we say (correctly) that obesity was a fraction of the percentage it is now. We also tend to forget of the slim kids in the 1900's, only 1 out of 8 grew to maturity! We also tend to forget that of the slim PEOPLE in the 1900's, the expected lifespan was 45 and even WITH the so called "obesity epidemic", our expected lifespan is 78! It has actually been set up in the last 5 years even WITH the increased level of obesity. No one stops to think that perhaps humans, like many other animals including pigs and bears, may be DESIGNED to carry some bodyfat when living in an environment of plenty of food and especially when living in an environment filled with toxins (bodyfat filters toxins out of the bloodstream).

Scientist Glenn Gaesser did a metastudy on all the obesity studies he could find in the last 25 years. A slim exercise physiologist, he expected to find that these studies suggested that obesity was deadly. Instead, what he DID find was that there had been much misrepresentation about obesity, that the met life charts were NOT based on their "build studies" because the build studies had found longevity in people of all weights including some pretty obese weights and that there was NO study DIRECTLY linking obesity with morbidity (or illness). He cites his findings in the book, BIG FAT LIES which I would really recommend your reading.

Since then, many others who have researched have not only found that dieting and weight cycling RAISES ALL risks including the cardiac and diabetes type 2 risk SIGNIFICANTLY, but also, that obesity alone has NEVER been DIRECTLY LINKED in any study with morbidity or early death. The latest "convert" to questioning our affinity for dieting and fat phobia is respected science reporter for the New York Times, Gina Kolata whose book "RE-THINKING THIN" is fast becoming a best seller.

And this is why all the obesity hysteria "stuff" has NOT made our kids MORE HEALTHY nor has the all out effort on the part of adults to expunge every last bit of bodyfat made ADULTS more healthy. And this is why it's important to define what it is which has been proven to help us be healthier - and that is better food choices and especially DAILY exercise. And these things will make us healthier REGARDLESS of what our size is.

What the obesity hysteria has done with our kids I have already detailed in my last blog. Eating disorders are on the rise (and 25 percent of anorexics die from it) and children may be getting LESS healthy because most are afraid to eat.

We cannot run our cars with no gas. Where did we ever think we can run our bodies with less food? I don't think we ARE thinking - we are just reacting in terror based on incorrect "facts" fed us by the TV media which is only for entertainment and only about SELLING a product. The diet industry is 45 billion dollars a year and expected to be MORE in the near future. As usual, follow the money trail.

Monday, July 23, 2007

childhood obesity - real or hype?

An article on a science site, questions whether the "childhood obesity epidemic" isn't just a bunch of hype:

I'm not surprised. I haven't seen any greater numbers of obese children in the schools but on the contrary, I've seen many more children whom I would call, painfully slim, in the schools.

Another article from a country outside of the USA, tells us of the alarmingly rapid rise in eating disorders seen in kids including vomiting, anorexia, overexercising and more.

The models given to these kids are NOT of normal sized people - they are of underweight and airbrushed models. And then we wonder WHY kids are uptight about food, weight and all that other stuff.

Perhaps the parents being uptight is a contributing factor. At any given time in the USA, 80 percent of women are dieting but the figure may actually be as high as 95 percent.

Somehow to see a child who is super slim already, worry about the simple pleasure of eating a candy bar seems utterly sad. Children now, are more prone to chew on plastic foods with little to no calories or nutrasweet laced chewing gum in a pathetic attempt to "fool" mother nature into thinking they are eating something.

More teens are starting to smoke now than in the 1960's before all the dangers of cigarettes were known. They mostly do it to help control their weight. And most teens, regardless of size, think they are fat. If you don't believe me, read their surveys on sometime. Pretty shocking.

I will agree that things like fast food (like MickeyD's) are unhealthy to the point of almost being non foods but whether they even make kids fat if they do not have the genetics, is questionable. The answer to the unhealthy qualities of fast foods is NOT to make kids afraid of eating ANYTHING but to encourage kids to eat their fill of more healthy stuff.

Somehow, a 9 year old who already knows the calories in everything she eats, is not "the look".

They tell us that this generation of kids will be the first to NOT outlive their parents. If that is really so, it won't be because of obesity but because our mental mind rape of these kids (and their parents) through the media will have made them afraid of ALL food including the healthy foods which would make them grow well.

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: