I do not know anyone obese who actually enjoys being overweight. Obesity is a difficult condition to overcome because there is more to treating this condition than simply eating in moderation and exercising. Understanding what causes obesity is the first step in reversing the process and preventing diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. I have created a handout, available to my patients, entitled, “Understanding Obesity”. Below is an excerpt from this handout as well as links to other helpful resources:
Without question, the biggest problem with our diet is sugar. It used to be that we consumed relatively small amounts of sugar. As Americans, we now consume approximately 150 pounds sugar a year; up 100 pounds from approximately 10 years ago. Sugar can be found in two forms: sucrose and high fructose corn syrup. Both include one molecule of glucose and one molecule of fructose. Because of the high cost of sucrose (cane sugar) it was used very sparingly in the past. For example, in the early 1900s, the average Coca-Cola bottle contained 6 ½ ounces of soda. With the advent of high fructose corn syrup, sugar became much cheaper. Now a canned soft drink contains 12 ounces of soda, and a bottled soft drink from the vending machine contains 20 ounces. Perhaps the biggest offenders are sports drinks because they are marketed as being healthy. In essence they are nothing more than a fat factory for our bodies.
Glucose is an energy source which all of our cells use. Excess glucose is broken down into glycogen in our liver which is non-toxic. Fructose on the other hand cannot be taken up by cells and is metabolized directly in the liver. Fructose does not contribute to energy formation and is metabolized directly to fat. We recommend that you look at labels very carefully and do not eat products that contain more than 3 grams of sugar per serving. Because cells do not use fructose for energy there is no feedback mechanism in the brain to tell us to stop eating…and so we don’t. This promotes the cycle of obesity.
People who switched from a conventional diet to a Mediterranean diet lowered their risk for death from all causes by 50%. In addition, there was an 80% reduction in heart disease, a 75% reduction in colon cancer, as well as decreased risk for reoccurrence of breast cancer. Avoid sugar, particularly fructose and high fructose corn syrup. It makes us fat and contributes to the development of diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension as well as other diseases. Make vegetables and legumes the mainstays of your diet. Believe it or not our cells talk to each other. By eating the proper nutrients, we get proper cell to cell communication. Make exercise a part of your daily routine. Try and keep your daily total calories in a reasonable range.