How the NHS failed me and mine.
What it did, to the most important person
in my life and how it could happen to you unless
we do something about it!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Obesity (Again).

Being overweight remains in the news, with bulk of opinion being slanted toward the view that people who are in this state (obesity and the UK) are largely responsible for their own predicament. I not only find that somewhat cruel, but also founded in poor or even bad science.

I've already said in my previous post that is unlikely to be the fault of the 'fatties' but more of those who are advising them to eat a 'healthy diet' which in the DH 'speak' will largely be carbohydrate based and 'low fat'. In the latter's case that will be monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats instead of saturated fats. Plant based oils (generally) then, in lieu of animal fats. This last bit of advice seems to fly in the face of the fact that homo-sapiens have some problems in metabolising some fats with CIS bonds (and even more problems with fats containing trans bonds). Animal fats such as lard, tallow and dripping, also contain quite large amounts of mono and polyunsaturated fats despite their undeserved reputation for being  entirely 'saturated'. Yet, it is patently obvious that this advice to avoid saturated fats and animal fats in particular, has done nothing to reduce the incidence of obesity and the associated risks of Diabetes, CHD, CVD and Cancer, because it continues to increase.

Looking in more depth at Nutrition and it's relationship with obesity we have to consider the mechanisms involved in becoming overweight. 'Hyperphagia' is synonymous with obesity, that is over-eating in simple terms. It can be a result of some genetic disorders or Diabetes, especially in Type 1's who inject insulin. It also manifests itself in Type 11's who are in advanced stages of the disease. High Carbohydrate diets typically can bring about this problem due to increased gene expression of the neuropeptide Y(NPY) in the hypothalamus, and causing a reduction in the expression of the hormone (CRH). What that means is that the brain is increasing its output of orexigenic (hunger generating) agents and decreasing output of anorectic (hunger suppressing) agents. This is how the brain stimulates our nutritional needs of hunger and satiety. So, it is evident that early stage diabetics (metabolic syndrome), Type 11 diabetics and the obese subjects will be permanently hungry. If, however we feed them a diet of fats and proteins and eliminate most carbohydrates, this phenomena is suppressed in a more 'normal' manner and appetite is curtailed at a much earlier stage in eating.

Forcing people then, to eat a 'healthy diet', two thirds of which is carbohydrate based, if we include the vegetables and fruit, is contributing to the obesity that it is meant to be reducing! Once we become 'insulin resistant' as well, we can arrive at a position where almost all intake is rapidly stored as fat, despite the fact that we are hungry, even starving, and our ability to 'feel full' is almost non-existent. Low carb diets, especially in the context of this section of society, are proven to have a considerable success in enabling obese and diabetics to attain an optimal weight and, more importantly, to maintain it. The mechanism is not fully understood, and there is considerable conjecture amongst biochemists that it may be down to ' metabolic advantage' with fats and proteins, or the satiety afforded by this food group actually reducing the calorie intake, or even the fact that increasing saturated fat intake, replaces vegetable/seed oil intake (generally Omega-6's) and that in itself helps to reduce obesity. Many hypotheses are propounded, reputations impugned, the science examined, re-examined and much that is known is based upon animal studies, not humans, but whatever the mechanism, it is certain that for most, a low or minimal diet of carbohydrates does bring about considerable weight loss and a 'normalisation' of blood sugars in most diabetics (Type 11's). Dogmatic views about diet and nutrition, without examining the science involved and ignoring outcomes, is what has brought about the ever rising tide of obesity and diabetes.

Those of us who are 'insulin resistant' respond to this more readily than any other cohort, and it is not a panacea for all, by any means, because all of us reach a plateau with our bodies, some quicker or slower than others. In fact being slightly over weight has some advantage for humanoids and was likely a defence mechanism against famine or periods when food was not abundant. The body in fact conserves energy in fat reserves and is quite loath to give them up, which is why so many dieters fail in their endeavours to lose weight because basal metabolism 'slows' as we begin to diet, especially with low fat/low calorie diets. Your body is attempting to 'save' you from yourself.
Completely Unnecessary Picture of Low Carber J- Lo

So why does mainstream advice for lowering the risk of obesity and the morbidity's that stem from it, continue to advocate measures, that are most likely to fail either in the short or long term? Well having your beliefs undermined, no matter how much evidence exists to prove you are wrong , is hard to bear, even for Doctors and Scientists.Being told what you want to hear, is comforting and reinforces preconceptions at the expense of the truth. Selection bias is something we are all guilty of at some time and I admit to it myself. We should not defend the indefensible but all too often the truth becomes clouded by hyperbole. Scientists delight in the rigour of 'peer review' often tearing quite good studies to pieces because 'they can' rather than due to any poverty of evidence. Equally as well they often lose the ability to reflect that 'correlation (and observation) does not prove causation' in the data they present. Which is why we get 'scare' stories extrapolated from views and opinions of Scientists, rather than hard evidence of harm.

It should not be countenanced and I have always believed that all of us  need to be as objective as possible in our search for truth, even when that truth challenges our basic and long held belief system. 'On the word of no-one' (Nullias in Verba), only the proof, is what we need.

This post has been devoid of links thus far. I've saved them  to the end. I've used some before, so don't be surprised to see them again. They all possess the 'gold standard' of trials, they are RC T's.
      1. Brehm BJ, et al. A Randomized Trial Comparing a Very Low Carbohydrate Diet and a Calorie-Restricted Low Fat Diet on Body Weight and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Healthy Women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2003;88:1617–1623.
      2. Samaha FF, et al. A Low-Carbohydrate as Compared with a Low-Fat Diet in Severe Obesity. N Engl J Med 2003;348:2074–81.
      3. Sondike SB, et al. Effects of a low-carbohydrate diet on weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor in overweight adolescents. J Pediatr. 2003 Mar;142(3):253–8.
      4. Aude YW, et al. The National Cholesterol Education Program Diet vs a Diet Lower in Carbohydrates and Higher in Protein and Monounsaturated Fat. A Randomized Trial. Arch Intern Med. 2004;164:2141–2146.
      5. Volek JS, et al. Comparison of energy-restricted very low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets on weight loss and body composition in overweight men and women. Nutrition & Metabolism 2004, 1:13.
      6. Yancy WS Jr, et al. A Low-Carbohydrate, Ketogenic Diet versus a Low-Fat Diet To Treat Obesity and Hyperlipidemia. A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Ann Intern Med. 2004;140:769–777.
      7. Nichols-Richardsson SM, et al. Perceived Hunger Is Lower and Weight Loss Is Greater in Overweight Premenopausal Women Consuming a Low-Carbohydrate/High- Protein vs High-Carbohydrate/Low-Fat Diet. J Am Diet Assoc. 2005;105:1433–1437.
      8. Gardner CD, et al. Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and learn Diets for Change in Weight and Related Risk Factors Among Overweight Premenopausal Women. The a to z Weight Loss Study: A Randomized Trial. JAMA. 2007;297:969–977.
      9. Dyson PA, et al. A low-carbohydrate diet is more effective in reducing body weight than healthy eating in both diabetic and non-diabetic subjects. Diabet Med. 2007 Dec;24(12):1430-5.
      10. Shai I, et al. Weight loss with a low-carbohydrate, mediterranean, or low-fat diet. N Engl J Med 2008;359(3);229–41.
      11. Krebs NF, et al. Efficacy and Safety of a High Protein, Low Carbohydrate Diet for Weight Loss in Severely Obese Adolescents. J Pediatr 2010;157:252-8.
      12. Summer SS, et al. Adiponectin Changes in Relation to the Macronutrient Composition of a Weight-Loss DietObesity (Silver Spring). 2011 Mar 31. [Epub ahead of print]
      13. Daly ME, et al. Short-term effects of severe dietary carbohydrate-restriction advice in Type 2 diabetes–a randomized controlled trial. Diabet Med. 2006 Jan;23(1):15–20.


      1. Am attempting to look like the totally unnecessary picture of J-lo and failing miserably at the moment. Was she the one that ate broccoli for a week to slim?

      2. Not quite, Julie. She is alleged to have taken to the 'Dukan Diet', which is a sort of 'Atkin's Diet' with a few changes to the protocol, to add in some soluble fibre, which are empty of calories, to make you feel full whilst not really eating much.

        My feeling as you may guess, is to 'cut the carbs' generally and substitute saturated fats and protiens. The aim being to invoke 'ketosis' whereby the body sustains itself mainly on fats with some protien to retain muscle and cellular regeneration. I do not subscribe entirely to 'Paleo' or 'Atkins' although I believe the essential components of both are to remove seed oils and grains largely, especially the Omega 6's, supplement with Omega 3's and eat grass fed meats with the fat on and avoid most breads, cereals and most of all soft drinks, even fruit juices, which are full of fructose, or worse High Fructose Corn Syrup.

        You can still drink the wine, but make it high alcohol, such as red wine like Shiraz, or dry white, remembering that there are calories in wine. The mechanism is that carbs promote an insulin reaction of a high order that in turn promotes fat storage, as they all turn to glucose very rapidly. We are all different and respond to diet based on our own unique metabolic profile and Atkins always did say to add back a few selected carbs after the initial period of very low carb, and some people take up to two months to adapt, rather than the two weeks he advocates.

        Cheese, eggs, cream in coffee instead of milk, butter on your green veg, and plenty of meats especially lamb and beef, but not the cheap 'lot fed' Irish beef which has high Omega 6 content but the Aberdeen Angus or Galloway, or Hereford. It does work and will reduce your calorie intake due to the feeling of fullness it provokes, as well as reducing your insulin reaction to food, which is the important element.

        As for Broccoli, well can't stand the stuff, but green leafy stuff is good, especially watercress, cabbage (braise it with bacon lardons or strips), sprouts (the same) etc. You won't want to snack and you will rarely feel hungry following this protocol. Barry Groves is my hero so look at 'Support for Trick and Treat' and Second-Opinions, he's been doing this since the '60's.