Lets Talk About Health not Weight

Lets talk about health

Lets talk about health

My post yesterday entitled Obesity Rates In US Higher than AIDS Rates in Africa has resulted in a lively discussion with a friend who thinks we as a culture are obsessed with weight.  And I am in complete agreement with her.  As I said yesterday my concerns are more about health then they are about weight.  As a medical doctor my main concern is that so many illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease can be traced back to eating habits especially obesity.  But I do not think that any of us have the right to point the finger at those who struggle with their weight and I hope that was not the impression you received from my post.

On top of that I am deeply concerned that chemicals in our environment and other toxic factors in our society may add to our weight and health problems.  This I talked about in a previous article entitled What Makes Us Fat.  And in many ways I feel that addressing these environmental issues is a more important crusade for us to join.

Of course we can still eat very healthily and be overweight .  When I found out I had high cholesterol last year my cardiologist brother sent me information on the Mediterranean diet . His comment – you may not lose weight but your cholesterol should come down.

My friend sent me the link to this very interesting article which is definitely worth a read:

You can’t escape the tyranny of the scale in this culture: At the grocery store (where calories are now listed prominently on many foods), at the doctor’s office, in the schoolyard, at the gym, among friends, our national obsession with weight is at an all-time high. This emphasis on weight, and losing it, is doing us no good, physically or mentally. There’s never been more shame and stigma around “overweight” and obesity, despite the fact that more of us are heavier than ever before.  Read the entire article

here I should add that I get just as irate at a culture that on one side is constantly tempting people to eat what they shouldn’t and then on the other makes so much money off peoples’ desire to lose weight.  That too is wrong.

Ironically just after I read this last article I received a link to a medical article on Best Practices for Infant Feeding which talked about yet another contributor to weight problems – what infants are fed on in the early months of life – It talked about everything from the benefits of breast feeding to the challenges of giving children white rice cereal as their first food.

The more we learn about breastfeeding, the more we learn about how powerful it is for babies in a variety of different ways. The immune benefits are incomparable, the nutrition benefits are incomparable, the taste benefits are incomparable. Breast milk tastes different every single feeding, which exposes the baby to a variety of flavors, and studies have shown that what a nursing mother eats can help predispose her child to learn to like later.

The breastfeeding and obesity question is one that has been highly controversial. It is biologically plausible that breastfeeding could have a powerful programming effect in preventing overweight or obesity. We know that there are significantly higher plasma insulin concentrations in infants who are bottle-fed compared with those who are breastfed, which would be expected to change fat deposition and development of fat cells.

It goes on to say

The formula-fed, though not the breast-fed, children who were introduced to solids before 4 months of age were 6 times more likely to end up obese at 3 years old. The researchers speculated that these children actually increased their energy intake as a result of the inclusion of solid foods. It appeared to change the amount that they ate and the way their body dealt with calories later on, an example of metabolic and possibly flavor programming.

For those of us who have the choice about what we eat, eating healthy is important and being aware that our weight may contribute to ill health is also important.