Friday, April 23, 2010

Sugar, Our Health and Gary Taubes

It is often argued that sugar contains empty calories and that we should limit our sugar intake. It has also been found that eating too much sugar can lead to overweight and even obesity. Further, obesity can lead to diabetes and other health problems. So, consuming too much sugar can lead to diminished health. Indeed, according to Gary Taubes, a well known opponent of sugar, too much sugar is one of the main causes of “metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes, and their associated chronic diseases.”

Gary Taubes’ 2002 New York Times article entitled, "What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?" was somewhat controversial. In the article, Taubes suggested that the medical experts who recommended a low fat, high carbohydrate diet caused the obesity epidemic. Taubes also suggested that diets such as Dr. Robert Atkins’ low carbohydrate diet might be a healthier diet than a low fat diet.

Taubes has indicated that sugars -- high-fructose corn syrup in particular -- are especially harmful. However, not all experts agree with many of Taubes’ opinions. But it is worth noting that Taubes appeared at the American Society of Bariatric Physicians (ASBP) Western Regional Obesity Conference held in Seattle, Washington in April 2010. Since ASBP is a respected organization, interested in credible weight loss and weight maintenance methods.

Sugar, including table sugar or sucrose, is a carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are converted by our body into glucose (a form of sugar). Glucose is used by our bodies' cells. However, if too much glucose is created, rather than used by the cells in our bodies, the glucose can cause damage to our nerves, kidneys, and heart. And some of the glucose might be stored as fat, causing us to gain weight.

So, even if sugars are not as harmful as Taubes suggests, too much sugar can cause weight gain. So, watching our sugar intake is probably a wise thing to do. And, again, Taubes’ appearance at the ASBP conference might mean that some experts might feel that his opinions could influence methodologies that could be beneficial to medical weight loss service providers and their patients.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Seaweed May Be Useful in Weight Loss

Obesity drugs may someday become the important weight loss tool many believe they can be. With their ease of use, obesity drugs have an inherent advantage. However, these drugs, so far, have had associated side effects. But a fiber, found in a certain type of seaweed, may provide the ease-of-use advantage of obesity drugs without the accompanying side effects.

Researchers at New Castle University in the U.K. have found that the fiber, called Alginate, is found in commercially used seaweed -- and that the fiber can aid in weight loss. The seaweed fiber's effect is similar to that of the obesity drug Orlistat.

Both Orlistat and the seaweed fiber cause fat in the food we eat not to be absorbed by the body. Indeed, the seaweed fiber, a natural fibre found in sea kelp, stops the body from absorbing fat better than most anti-obesity treatments currently available over the counter."

In the past, obesity drugs have caused negative side effects for various users. For example, the drug Fen-phen was felt to be a useful obesity drug. Fen-phen consisted of two drugs, fenfluramine and phentermine. However, because Fen-phen caused heart related problems in some users, in 1997 the FDA requested that fenfluramine be taken off the market by its maker, American Home Products. So, Fen-phen was essentially removed from the market.

And Meridia, another obesity drug which is manufactured by Abbott Laboratories, can cause side effects such as headaches, high blood pressure and constipation. And the consumer advocacy organization, Public Citizen, asked the FDA to have Meridia taken off the market.

Although in 2007, the FDA approved the GlaxoSmithKline obesity drug Alli, the over-the-counter form of Orlistat, the drug can reportedly cause side effects, including frequent stools and gas.

Therefore, obesity drugs have had their problems. So a dietary fiber that can be added to food could be an important weight loss tool. And research may show that the fiber has fewer side effects than Alli or other obesity drugs.

We believe this fiber should be monitored by those in the weight loss industry. Indeed, we believe that medical weight loss service providers should pay close attention to research associated with this fiber. A safe, effective, food additive could offer medical weight loss service providers an important weapon in the weight loss and weight management fight.

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Passage of the Health Care Bill Gives the U.S. an Opportunity to Combat Obesity

With the passage of the Health Care Reform Bill, the U.S. federal government is poised to be more involved in the fight against overweight and obesity. Even before the bill became law, the first lady, Michelle Obama, took on a leading role in the fight against childhood obesity. She's been a key player in the "Let's Move" campaign which is a movement to fight childhood obesity. Finally, the U.S. federal government has already indicated that it will increase funding to fight obesity.

Elements of the new law will attempt to influence eating habits. There is language in the law requiring some eating establishments to give calorie- content information. "The health care law requires chain restaurants that have more than 20 locations to display calorie information next to the food item on the standard menu. "

The federal law also requires the inclusion of additional information suggesting that a normal daily caloric intake is about 2000 calories. Indicating normal daily caloric intake is felt to be necessary, since researchers have found that when they know what the normal caloric intake is, people eat less.

In addition to what the federal government is doing, lower level governments have also joined the fight against overweight and obesity. The Virginia state government has completed legislation to change the name of the "Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation" to the "Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth." With the name change, the organization broadens its mission to fight childhood obesity, in addition to smoking.

In Ohio, the state government is working on legislation for "healthy choices for healthy children." The legislation will promote increased physical activity, physical education, and enhance the nutritional value of the food children eat in school.

As we said above, First Lady Michelle Obama is playing a leading role in fighting childhood obesity. And while the government can play an important role in childhood obesity, the fight against childhood obesity must begin in the home. Parents must guide their children in adopting healthy eating habits.

in fact, since obesity can be an impediment to future success, parents should be interested in joining the obesity fight. And weight loss centers (and health care professionals, in general) could work with parents to help them employ the best procedures for fighting childhood obesity. This kind of collaboration could help the community as a whole, and enhance a weight loss center’s local reputation.

Moreover, collaboration between weight loss centers and governments -- federal, state and local -- might be one of the best ways to beat overweight and obesity during childhood and adulthood.

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