The Skinny on Obesity (Ep. 1): An Epidemic for Every Body

The Skinny on Obesity (Ep. 1): An Epidemic for Every Body

October 13, 2019 100 By Stanley Isaacs


[ Music ]>>How did the entire world
get this fat this fast? Did everyone just become a
bunch of gluttons and sloths? [ Music ] Obesity’s been around
since there were people. It’s been around for
50,000 years easy and it was around before McDonald’s,
Burger King, Wendy’s, it was around before Coca-Cola. Obesity’s part of
the human condition and there are evolutionary
reasons why obesity has been selected for in individual
populations because people who store energy are
more likely to be able to survive periods of famine. So there is a selection process
that goes on all the time but none of those things explain
how in 30 years we have gone from being svelt, if you will, to basically being
unbelievably sick. That’s what an epidemic
or a pandemic, in this case, looks like. That’s what plague,
influenza looked like and the question is what
would be the exposure that could account for this
and if it was just gluttons and sloths, how do you
explain the obese 6-month-old? We have an epidemic of obese
6-month-olds in this country. They don’t diet and
exercise, you’re going to call them a bunch
of gluttons and sloths? This goes way beyond
the question of personal responsibility.>>We have felt like it’s the
individual’s responsibility to keep their energy balance,
to eat the right amount and stay the right weight. But when something goes
wrong like the majority of the population becoming
overweight, we have to question that model and we have to
look at the forces outside of ourself this huge
societal environmental forces that are shaping obesity.>>The reason we’re in
this epidemic can be summed up with one statement, one idea
that has become so pervasive that it’s become sacrosanct,
that it has become dogma and that statement is “A
calorie is a calorie.” It’s the first thing dieticians
learned in dietary school. If you eat more than you
burn you will gain weight. If you eat less than you
burn, you will lose weight. And it doesn’t matter if those
calories come from carrots or cheesecake, the bottom line
is a calorie is a calorie, you eat too much, you
exercise too little and that’s the mantra
and guess what? It doesn’t work. And the reason it
doesn’t work is because a calorie
is not a calorie. The only dogma is there is none.>>Choose your favorite
hypothesis, there’s so many. Well you know what is
it in our environment? Is it just the excess of food? Is it the high fructose
corn syrup? Is it the antibiotics we’re
taking, the estrogens, different hormones and
hormone mimic hers? Is it the intrauterine
environment? All of these factors
play a role, so it is not just one thing. I mean if there’s one big thing, it’s of course it is
our food environment.>>Fast foods, fast
preparing, fast eating, and fast-causing disease, too. And we in our 2 parent
working, 2-hour commuting, 2 job life do not
have time for food. This is the biggest issue
that we currently face. It is the reason that the
industrial global diet has taken over the world is because with
all of our labor-saving devices, with the cars and the computers
and lawn mowers that you sit on instead of push,
et cetera, et cetera. All of those things have
actually reduced our time not created it. So this is a function of the
changes that we have made in our society extensively
for our benefit. The question is are they?>>Well there’s been a number
of changes in the last 30 years in how we interact with
food, with our food supply. There’s over 24,000
different foods that enter the marketplace
every year and there’s the issue of sleep patterning, stress,
how we feed our animals, the nutrients in the soil. There’s a number of
different issues at play. All of these converge on, I
think, adding to something to the obesity epidemic.>>The Western diet, our diet,
that we prize and export all over the globe has now become
the industrial global diet because it’s cheap,
it’s portable, it has no depreciation,
witness the 10-year old Twinkie and it was designed
to taste really good to keep people eating. This is now everywhere. This is the exposure. This is what has changed.>>I think we have
had a perfect storm. We have had the confluence of
this change food environment, the restricted activity like
no PE in schools, and chemicals that we’re not quite sure
what we’re being exposed to and they’re working together. [ Music ]>>Boy does that look good but honey what’ll these
calories do to my waistline?>>Relax, it’s diet [inaudible].>>There was a big war in the
food field back in the sixties and seventies and the
war was fat or sugar. And so we were remanded,
as a country, to reduce our consumption
of fat from 40% to 30%. Well guess what? We did it, we are there. But the total consumption
of calories and specifically carbohydrates
and especially sugar has gone through the roof, so
it was that directive, that edict of the late 1970s
that started the obesity and metabolic syndrome
ball rolling.>>It is almost impossible
to buy those packaged foods without getting a lot of extra
sugars that are just going to be toxic for your metabolism. I’m suspicious of anything
that says low fat or diet because you know that that means
that they’ve had to compensate with a lot of these
added sugars.>>A perfect example,
SnackWell’s. So what’s a SnackWell? Two grams of fat down, 13 grams
of carbohydrate increased 4 of which are sugar,
no fewer calories, same number of calories and
if fat’s not the problem and the sugar is, you can
see where we’re going here.>>And there’s also the
change in this food supply so that those highly
palatable foods are more easily accessible, so we can
reach for that comfort food at any street corner, at
any time during the day and have a few extra calories. [ Music ]>>When we talk about
the diseases of obesity, we’re talking about type
2 diabetes, hypertension, lipid problems, so blood fats,
if you will, heart disease. Those are sort of the
Big 4, if you will, that constitute what we
classically called the metabolic syndrome. However, we now know that there
are several other diseases that fall within the scope
as well, for instance, nonalcoholic fatty
liver disease, which now affects
one-third of all Americans, polycystic ovarian syndrome,
which affects 10% of all women, cancer and also dementia. Now here’s the key. Everyone thinks that those
downstream diseases are because of the obesity and
that could not be further from the truth. The obesity travels
with those diseases but the obesity is a marker for
those diseases Twenty percent of obese people have a
completely normal cellular metabolism and they will
live to a normal age. Forty percent of thin people, normal weight people have those
same chronic metabolic diseases and will die of them. Nobody dies of the obesity per
se; they die of the diseases that come from the
metabolic dysfunction. So when you do the math that
accounts for 60% of America. We are not talking
about a minority; we are talking about
the majority. So when you add up the medical
costs for those 8 diseases, that is 75% of healthcare
expenditures, not just ours, not just America but all over
the world so much so that in September of 2011, the
United Nations secretary general announced that non-communicable
disease, that is chronic metabolic
disease, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension,
cancer, dementia now posed a bigger
threat to the developing world, not the developed world,
the developing world than did acute infectious
disease and that includes HIV. This is enormous. This is mind boggling. This is absolutely staggering that developing countries have
a bigger problem with obesity and diabetes than they do with
cholera and other infections. When you think about that,
that really has to stop and give you pause,
something is going on here. [ Music ]