Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Top Obesity Doc Fesses Up

Bri at Fat Lot of Good already had an excellent commentary on this somewhat surprising story (not surprising in it's information most of us fat activists already know, surprising in that a top obesity doctor finally fessed up to it).

To answer that question, Ernsberger took genetically obese and genetically thin rodents and made the thin ones fat by feeding them a high-sugar, high-fat diet. "They both had obesity related problems, but the one that has a poor diet is much less healthy — they have worse blood sugar, worse blood pressure and worse cholesterol.

"So all risk factors are worse off, even though they may not nearly be as heavy as the genetically obese." He says some people are naturally obese and other people are naturally thin but that they force their bodies to become obese by over-eating and under-exercising. "And that's probably the unhealthy obese."


Yes, yes, yes! So like in the "study" I talked about yesterday lumping all fat people and their variety of lifestyle habits is very misleading. Being fat alone is not the major risk factor. Correlation is not causation.

I know I have to be one of the genetically obese under his definitions. I exercise regularly, about an hour of lap swimming three times a week; I eat a much healthier than average diet, most days it's likely even on the low calorie side; and I have very good blood pressure and blood glucose but I'm still very fat. If I try to lose weight it wouldn't be for health reasons as I'm not sick. In fact I would likely be putting my body under risk again because of the stress of starving myself and the inevitable regain would in itself cause metabolic problems.

6 comments:

The Bald Soprano said...

I have to say, I'm frustrated as all hell at this guy. It seems hopeful, but he still thinks that anyone who is obese and genetically inclined to diabetes must have overeaten and underexercised themselves to be obese. *headdesk* (Not that every woman on all the sides of my family, fat and thin, winds up with diabetes, and some of the men, too, or anything like that....)

wriggles said...

Have to echo Bald Soprano's concerns.

Ernsberger took genetically obese and genetically thin rodents and made the thin ones fat by feeding them a high-sugar, high-fat diet. "They both had obesity related problems, but the one that has a poor diet is much less healthy — they have worse blood sugar, worse blood pressure and worse cholesterol.

There's so much that doesn't add up here that I'll just stick with; rodents are not people.

Andee J. said...

Yeah, and also: Force-feeding (by tube, I would guess) is a lot different from just plain eating. You might be able to make a genetically thin person fat by forced tube feeding, but most thin people would be hard-pressed to make themselves permanently "obese" just feeding themselves per usual. They'd have to be seriously bingeing AND completely sedentary at all times for that even to have a chance of happening.

Andee (Meowser)

Nan said...

I've always wondered just how the skinny people end up diabetic. There's this constant ranting about the evils of fat and the risk of diabetes, but from what I've seen (and granted it's all anecdotal) type II seems to be more the result of genetics and aging than it does lifestyle.

Ann of the Incredible Gift said...

Two skinny people I know of seem to have become diabetic after an unspecified viral illness.

One was normal as a young child, became very ill, recovered and immediately began displaying symptoms of diabetes. The other was normal into his teens, had a mild illness including fever, "probably viral" according to his doctor. He recovered, and within a few months was diagnosed with diabetes.

Makes me wonder if some virus out there predisposes some of its victims toward developing diabetes immediately, some later, and what genetic expressions factors are involved.

Cherie said...

Diabetes, type 1 and 2, run in my family so it's also a concern on my radar. Interesting that we have more thin people than fat ones develop diabetes, especially insulin dependent diabetes. Also my thin and active husband has crazy weird, high cholesterol. Genetics plays a huge role in all of this. I also believe genetics plays a big roll in being fat. Yes humans are NOT mice but the fact that there ARE genetically fat mice lend evidence that there are genetically fat people as well. Imagine that, nature produces people in a variety of shapes and sizes as it does mice. Also, it's not a huge leap that if you feed mice nothing but a bunch of junk and they are unhealthy that eating a primarily junk food diet in humans might also contribute to poor health. In fact I personally believe junk food is likely a much better predictor of poor health in humans than BMI but that would be much trickier to study so it doesn't get the same focus.

Andee J., I'm not sure it would take major extremes to make a naturally thin person obese. Depression, illness, and stress can really do a number on people. To me that still doesn't mean they should be focusing on their current size either, I would like nothing better that to have size disappear as a concern altogether and just have people concern themselves with living fulfilled lives, with the best health they can with the cards they've been dealt.