Category Archives: Overweight and Obesity

Mediterranean Diet Limits Weight Gain in Adolescents

"I may not make wine with all of my grapes, but when I do, it's red wine."

“I may not make wine with all of my grapes, but when I do, it’s red wine. Don’t give it to children.”

Overweight and obesity are increasing in U.S. adolescents, which may hamper their health as adults. In fact, some experts predict that we will see a decrease in average life expectancy because of lifelong excess weight.

Youths who follow a Mediterranean diet pattern don’t see as much increase in body mass index as others.

From the International Journal of Obesity:

“Among adults, the Mediterranean dietary pattern (MDP) is inversely related to body mass index (BMI) [i.e., as the Mediterranean diet is followed more closely, we see less increase in body weight.]. Data are lacking on adherence to the MDP among youth in the United States and whether the MDP is related to weight change in that group.”

Now we have some data, and it looks good for the Mediterranean diet.

In other words, if you want to keep your kid from getting fat, the Mediterranean diet will help. Fo you adults, the Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet also helps control diabetes.

Source: International Journal of Obesity – Abstract of article: Adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern and BMI change among US adolescents

Steve Parker, M.D.

low-carb mediterranean diet

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Men Hold the Line at 35%, But 40% of U.S. Women Now Obese

That excess weight can shorten your life

That excess weight can shorten your life

Yahoo has a brief article with a few more details. For $30 you can read the original scientific report from Journal of the American Medical Association.

Obesity in this context is defined as a body mass index of 30 or higher. Calculate your BMI here.

Is it your fault if you’re obese?

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: If you want to buck the overweight/obesity trend, check out my books.

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Another Theory to Explain the Obesity Epidemic

Dr. Michael Eades of Protein Power fame thinks he knows why we’ve gotten fat starting 35 years ago (at least in the U.S.):

Along with carbohydrates, vegetable oils have increased dramatically in the typical American diet. Over the same time period, we’ve all started eating away from home more and more, so that we’ve lost control of exactly what kinds of fats we’ve been eating.

Click the link for the details of his hypothesis, which involves the effects of various dietary fats and carbohydrates on intracellular energy metabolism and insulin resistance.

Steve Parker, M.D.

low-carb mediterranean diet

Front cover of book

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Do Insulin Levels Often Cause Hunger?

So easy to over-eat!

So easy to over-eat! Is it the insulin release?

No, insulin probably isn’t the cause of constant hunger, according to Dr. Stephan Guyenet. Dr. G gives 11 points of evidence in support of his conclusion. Read them for yourself. Here are a few:

  • multiple brain-based mechanisms (including non-insulin hormones and neurotransmitters) probably have more influence on hunger than do the pure effect of insulin
  • weight loss reduces insulin levels, yet it gets harder to lose excess weight the more you lose
  • at least one clinical study (in 1996) in young healthy people found that foods with higher insulin responses were linked to greater satiety, not greater hunger
  • billions of people around the world eat high-carb diets yet remain thin

An oft-cited explanation for the success of low-carbohydrate diets involves insulin, specifically the lower insulin levels and reduced insulin resistance seen in low-carb dieters. They often report less trouble with hunger than other dieters.

Here’s the theory. When we eat carbohydrates, the pancreas releases insulin into the bloodstream to keep blood sugar levels from rising too high as we digest the carbohydrates. Insulin drives the bloodstream sugar (glucose) into cells to be used as energy or stored as fat or glycogen. High doses of refined sugars and starches over-stimulate the production of insulin, so blood sugar falls too much, over-shootinging the mark, leading to hypoglycemia, an undeniably strong appetite stimulant. So you go back for more carbohydrate to relieve the hunger induced by low blood sugar. That leads to overeating and weight gain.

Read Dr. Guyenet’s post for reasons why he thinks this explanation of constant or recurring bothersome hunger is wrong or too simplistic. I tend to agree with him on this.

The insulin-hypoglycemia-hunger theory may indeed be at play in a few folks. Twenty ears ago, it was popular to call this “reactive hypoglycemia.” For unclear reasons, I don’t see it that often now. It was always hard to document that hypoglycemia unless it appeared on a glucose tolerance test.

Regardless of the underlying explanation, low-carb diets undoubtedly are very effective in many folks. That’s why I offer one as an option in my Advanced Mediterranean Diet. And low-carbing is what I always recommend to my patients with carbohydrate intolerance: diabetics and prediabetics.

Steve Parker, M.D.

front cover

front cover

Steve Parker MD, Advanced Mediterranean Diet

Two diet books in one

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Do Diet Beverages Inhibit Weight Loss?

Overweight and obese women who habitually drank diet beverages lost more weight if they substituted water for the diet beverage. Over the course of 24 weeks on a reduced calorie diet, the water drinkers lost an extra 1.2 kg (2.6 lb) compared to those who continued their diet beverage habit.

Furthermore, the researchers found that the water drinkers had healthier values on insulin levels, HOMA-IR (a measure of insulin resistance), and after-meal blood sugar levels.

It was a small study with only about 30 in each experimental group. Whether similar results would be seen in men is unknown to me.

In the past, I’ve advised dieters it’s OK to drink diet drinks in moderation while trying to weight. I may have to revise my recommendations. On the other hand, if diet drinks help keep you happy and on a successful weight-loss journey, they may be helpful. The diet beverage consumers still lost 7.6 kg (16.7 lb) compared with 8.8 kg (19.4 lb) in the abstainers. But diets don’t work, right?

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: I haven’t read the full text of the article; just the abstract.

PPS: Steven Novella at Science-Based Medicine blog concludes that low energy sweeteners probably help with weight control.

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P.D. Mangan on Processed Food, Supernormal Stimuli, and Obesity 

Supernormal stimulus

Supernormal stimulus

Read the whole thing (link below). It’s not long. A snippet:

“The obesogenic nature of the kind of foods that most people eat means that you must largely avoid them.

Because of the supernormal stimuli embedded in them, the best course of action in my opinion is to avoid them at all costs. Supernormal stimuli cause addiction, and they may make your steak and eggs, foods that you should be eating, less appealing.

For most people, unless they have plenty of money to throw around, this means preparing food and eating at home. Avoid the center of the grocery store, where processed junk and soda are sols, and shop around the outside, where you’ll find whole, unprocessed food like meat, cheese, eggs, and vegetables.”

Source: Processed Food, Supernormal Stimuli, and Obesity – Rogue Health and Fitness

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Is Hunger Really a Problem In the U.S.?

I’m hearing ads on the radio that many in the U.S., including children, are suffering from hunger. Nutrition science journals in the last few years are covering “food insecurity,” which many would assume means not having enough food or fearing the lack of food.

These concerns seem at odds with the fact that two-thirds of us are overweight or obese. So how many of us at normal or below-average weights suffer from food insecurity or hunger?

James Bovard breaks it down for you in an excellent article. Read the whole thing. Some morsels (heh):

  • seven times as many (low income) children are obese as are underweight
  • 40% of food stamp (SNAP) users are obese, compared to 30% in the overall U.S. adult population
  • if the food stamp program would prohibit purchase of sugary drinks, it would prevent 141,000 children from becoming fat and save a quarter million adults from type 2 diabetes

Fat hungry people would be less hungry if they’d cut way back on refined, nutrient-poor carbohydrates, replacing with protein and healthy fats.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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