Sunday, July 14, 2019

Retrospective #148: Obesity, a Condition of Genetic Susceptibility

Obesity is, for most of us, a condition of genetic susceptibility. I say “most of us” because I want to address in particular NOT the very small number of people who have a rare genetic disorder (e.g.: Prader-Willi syndrome). I want to address the one-third to one-half of us who will gain weight eating the same foods in the same amounts that the rest of us do who do not gain weight. At one time we did eat the same foods and amounts without gaining weight, but then something changed, and that something is not simply behavioral, nor is it less physical activity.
My bias as a member of this cohort is also an advantage. I am amazed by several respected authors in the health and nutrition field who still just don’t get it. It’s too bad. Maybe you just have to be in our shoes to understand how the body responds to carbohydrates once your metabolism has become disregulated by Insulin Resistance, with the resulting hunger/cravings yet complete intolerance for carbohydrates as an energy source without weight gain.
Anyway, I do not seek sympathy. I just want wider understanding and acceptance of the science behind the cause of obesity. That might enable empathy and 1) an interest in advancing the science, and 2) an openness by the medical and public health establishments to accept the evidence presented by so many serious researchers.
Unfortunately, both the medical and public health establishments today are thoroughly corrupted by Agribusiness, Big Pharma and they by government funding for research. So, only independent researchers, most of them younger and unencumbered by conflicts of interest or conscience, can make a difference. I am but a speck in this firmament, but I power on, seeking and broadcasting the truth to a small following. Thank you for reading my blog.
My bias is generally informed by award-winning science writer Gary Taubes. His seminal tome, “Good Calories – Bad Calories,” is a foundational document. In Retrospective #5, “Gary Taubes and the Alternative Hypothesis,” I give his “10 certain conclusions” which lay down the basis for his understanding of the scientific cause of obesity.
In Retrospective #120, “Nutrigenomics,” I wrote: “It is hoped that by building up knowledge in this area, nutrigenomics will promote an increased understanding of how nutrition influences metabolic pathways and homeostatic control, which will then be used to prevent the development of chronic diet related diseases such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes.” Nutrigenomics clearly defines obesity as a condition of genetic susceptibility.
In an NPR piece some time ago, Dr. Lee Kaplan said, “There are thousands of genes in the body, and about 100 of them are involved in making some people more susceptible to weight gain.” “We’re all wired in slightly different ways,” and “those subtle differences are reflected in how the body deals with energy stores and fat.”
The head of the Obesity Clinical Program at the Joslin Diabetes Center said: “The reality is, if you have that genetic susceptibility to gain weight, you will gain weight easily, no matter what. Genetic susceptibility has to do with hormones and chemical systems in the body that direct appetite, metabolism and the absorption of nutrients. If you've always loved the sugary taste of ice cream, you may end up eating too much of it simply because an enzyme in your brain fails to halt the chemical that signals your brain to eat as much of the beloved food as you can.”
A 2009 study on the genetic susceptibility to weight gain found that when 12 pairs of identical twins were overfed 1,000 calories a day for three months, each set of twins gained a different amount of weight. Some only gained 8 pounds, while others gained thirty pounds. But within the pairs of twins themselves, the weight gain was the same.
A story in The Telegraph reported that Paul van der Velpen, the head of Amsterdam’s health service, said, “Just like alcohol and tobacco, sugar is actually a drug.” Van der Velpen claims that sugar, unlike fat or other foods, interferes with the body’s appetite creating an insatiable desire to carry on eating, an effect he accuses the food industry of using to increase consumption of their products. Whoever uses sugar wants more and more, even when they are no longer hungry. Give someone eggs and he’ll stop eating at any given time. Give him cookies, and he eats on…”
I can relate to that. I wonder if van der Velpen is fat too, or does he just “get it.” I wonder…

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