Monthly Archives: May 2011

What role has the American culture had in the development of eating disorders and obesity?

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Right now, America has the distinction of being one of the top ten countries in the world for overweight adults.  60% of all American adults are classified as overweight, one out of four being morbidly obese. Also, obesity is increasing at such an alarming rate among U.S. children that they will be the first generation in decades that are projected to have a shorter lifespan than their parents! The question we must ask is why is this happening?  A common theory is that we are lazy slugs who eat too much and exert too little. Really?

First of all, let’s consider our lifestyle.  With the advancement of technology, most developed nations have experienced negative health consequences of more sedentary lifestyles.  However, when it comes to exercising and activity level, Americans are actually right in the middle of the pack. Yet still, we are at the top of the list for obesity and the attendant health problems! So much for our lack of physical fitness as the answer!

If it isn’t the exercise, it must be the way we eat.   Cross-cultural studies have demonstrated that “Westernized” societies are at greatest risk for obesity and weight related health problems. Of the top ten heaviest countries in the world, eight are located in the South Pacific. The only exceptions are the U.S. and Kuwait. Guess what the other eight have in common? If your thinking coconuts, think again. It’s us, the U.S. of A! For the past 50 years these eight countries have established significant economic ties with the U.S., which caused a surge in Western food imports and significant changes in their diet. Namely, they ate more processed and fast foods that originated in the U.S. Likewise, although China and Japan rank 148th and 163rd respectively for obese adults, compared to our ranking of 8th, both countries have shown marked increases in obesity the more “westernized” they have become.  Nothing like a Micky D’s to increase the average waist size of the populace!

These statistics demonstrate that the American diet has some major issues. But how is it that our food supply has become so fattening and why in the world have we allowed it? One of the issues is that we are dependent upon the convenience of packaged and/or fast foods. We like things now, because we don’t have time to wait. We are overworked to the point of having to rely upon the convenience of basic things like already prepared foods, because we simply don’t have the time to shop and cook.

It’s true, American workers play less and work more than the workers of any other developed nation in the world. In a report comparing international vacation and holiday laws, the researchers found that the United States is the only advanced economy that does not guarantee its workers any paid vacation or holidays. And vacation time is not the only problem. American workers are overworked day in and day out as well. Consider the following: At least 134 countries have laws setting the maximum length of the workweek; the U.S. does not. In the U.S. 85.8 percent of males and 66.5 percent of females work more than 40 hours per week, and according to the International Labor Organization, “Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers.” The fact is that in our country, you’ve got to come in early, (before 7:00 a.m.) stay late, carry your cell and/or pager all weekend, and become a road-warrior, lest you fall behind in the never-ending work piled on top of you day in and day out!

So we are not lazy, we are overworked!

Another part of the problem is that we have come to view cooking as an inconvenience.  It has become synonymous with being “old fashioned” or with traditionalism. As a result, we rely on packaged, processed, pre-cooked, pre-pared foods because it’s quick and easy. What’s wrong with that? Nothing except that these prepared foods are TOXIC.  The FDA looks the other way while food manufacturers pocket the profits from loading our food supply with additives that are addictive and cheap to manufacture.

Hard to believe?  Believe it. The research has been done. The data is good. The information is out there. The U.S. food industry has been polluting our food supply with addictives, poisonous additives called excitatory neurotoxins, like MSG, high fructose corn syrup, Splenda, and NutraSweet since the 1970’s.  These neurotoxins have been shown to cause all manner of neurological problems as well as obesity and it’s complications.  Guess when we started to become more obese? The 1980’s, shortly after we began to ingest sweeteners, and all manner of hydrolyzed proteins that literally excite the neurons in the centers of our brains that were designed to regulate appetite and fat storage!  At about the same time the rates of autism, ADD, Aspergers, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and a number of different types of cancers, all of which appear to be driven by environmental toxins, began to climb, peaking recently. The sad thing is that these issues are not even on the radar of the vast majority of Americans, who blame themselves for their obesity, binge eating, bulimia, anorexia and all manner of disturbed eating patterns. Where does it end?

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Medical Advice Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship.

© 2011, Dr J Renae Norton. This information is intellectual property of Dr J Renae Norton. Reproduction and distribution for educational purposes is permissible.

Please credit ‘© 2011, Dr J Renae Norton. http://edpro.wpengine.com’

Sources:

Forbes Magazine (online version) – World’s Fattest Countries (http://www.forbes.com/2007/02/07/worlds-fattest-countries-forbeslife-cx_ls_0208worldfat.html)

New York Times (online version) – Americans’ International Lead in Hours Worked Grew in 90’s, Report Shows (http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/01/us/americans-international-lead-in-hours-worked-grew-in-90-s-report-shows.html)

DORway (http://www.dorway.com)

Russell Blaylock, MD (http://www.russellblaylockmd.com/)

 

Is There Really a Connection Between Full-Time Working Moms and Child Obesity?

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Over the past 35 years, the percentage of U.S. mothers who hold down a job while raising kids have soared from less than 50% to more than 70%. During this same time frame, the childhood obesity rate-which is now close to 17%- has more than tripled. Many researchers are claiming that there’s a direct connection between these two figures. The journal of Childhood Development just published a study, which showed that the longer a mother is employed, the more likely her children are to be overweight or obese. The study demonstrated that for each additional five-month period that his or her mother is employed, a child of average height could be expected to gain 1 extra pound over and above normal growth. In addition, six graders with working mothers were found to be six times more likely than those with stay-at-home moms to be overweight.

Another study published in Business Week supports this same concept, finding that was a correlation between the number of hours a women works outside the home and the BMI of her children. This research found that for a third grader of average height, the increase in BMI was equivalent to an extra one and a half to two extra pounds over what that child would normally gain in a year.

With studies like these being done, the idea that American kids are getting fat because women work outside the home now, could seem convincing. But hold on. These are correlative studies, not experimental research. The problem with these conclusions is that there may be several other things occurring simultaneously “causing” or contributing to this dietary epidemic.

Obviously, if women are spending long hours at work, as many do, home cooked meals are less of an option. In our nation it has become far too common for the wife to pop something pre packaged into the oven at night or pick up a pizza on her way home in order to accommodate her family with a meal that is quick and tasty.

The issue is that convenience foods have become a way of life for Americans. The ability to buy ready-made food is so much the norm that cooking for yourself seems like overkill, like you’re trying to win the best mom ever trophy. When push comes to shove, and it often does, most moms say the heck with it! Bring on the pizza. But that’s when the real problem kicks in, as processed foods are loaded with MSG, HFCS, Aspartame and Acesulfame, all of which are neurotoxins and all of which contribute to weight gain or disturbed eating. It doesn’t matter if the wife had the WHOLE DAY to cook a meal anymore because she wouldn’t anyway. Not when she can just run down the street to KFC and have a bucket of chicken in less than 10 minutes.

Thus it is the additives in these convenience foods that are directly responsible for why our nation and our children have become so fat. The percentage of mothers working full time may have gone up over the past 35 years, but so has the amount of MSG and high fructose corn syrup being poured into the foods we buy. They are found in just about all prepackaged, frozen and fast foods. They keep our stomachs saying “yum!” and “more,” and our blood sugar levels on a constant rollercoaster.  Working mothers who have jobs don’t directly cause weight problems in their children. Reliance on and trust in processed foods containing dangerous addictive additives should be getting blamed. Unfortunately, most people don’t even know they’re there!

Sources:

Verropoulou G, Joshi H. Mothers’ Employment and Child Development. London, UK: Center for Longitudinal Development. 2006.

Business Week (online version) – WHAT! WORKING MOTHERS = FAT KIDS??? (http://www.businessweek.com/careers/workingparents/blog/archives/2007/05/who_knew_seems.html)

Medical Advice Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship.

© 2011, Dr J Renae Norton. This information is intellectual property of Dr J Renae Norton. Reproduction and distribution for educational purposes is permissible.

Please credit ‘© 2011, Dr J Renae Norton. http://edpro.wpengine.com’

The Connection Between Leptin Levels and Eating Disorders

Leptin

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Recently the Division of Endocrinology at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine performed a study on the connection between Leptin levels and eating disorders. Leptin is a peptide hormone neurotransmitter produced by fat cells and involved in the regulation of appetite. It signals your brain when you’ve eaten enough and stimulates you to burn more calories. In order to span a full range of human body weights for their investigation, the analysts, examined serum leptin levels in anorexic, bulimic, obese, and control individuals.

Compared to the analysis generated from non-anorexic patients, patients with anorexia nervosa were found to have much higher serum leptin levels values. In effect, having leptin levels so high is contributory to a blunted physiologic response to being underweight and consequently builds resistance to dietary treatment. Simply put, they have too many of these leptin hormones being sent to the brain that are saying, “You are full.” Therefore, anorexic patients repel the need to consume enough of the nutrients their body realistically needs to function properly.

On the other hand, what this study found in bulimic patients when compared to non-bulimic patients is the opposite effect. Bulimic patients were found to have much lower leptin levels. This deficiency of leptin hormones is usually caused by a form of Leptin resistance and this contributes to the patients food-craving behavior. The Leptin resistance found in most bulimic patients comes from a chemical surge located in the pleasure center of our brain. This chemical surge overrules leptin’s messages that are trying to tell the bulimic patient “your tank is full.” So in other words, there is a chemical battle going on inside a bulimic patients brain. The leptin hormones are trying to tell the defense to kick in and protect them against overeating but at the same time, in a much louder voice, the pleasure center of the brain is saying, “No! Pass those cookies this-a-way.”

When examining leptin levels in most obese people, it was found that they actually have high leptin levels. However, their bodies usually cannot respond to these leptin hormones because they have another form of leptin resistance. Instead of leptin messages being rejected and overruled by the pleasure center of the brain (like the type of resistance indicated in most bulimic patients), obese patients cells’ have completely stopped accepting leptin messages all together. Therefore, they do not receive any message from their leptin hormones that would be telling them to stop eating.

Essentially, regulating your leptin levels and defeating leptin resistance plays a large role in overcoming an eating disorder. Foods that are high in sugar or additives such as high fructose corn syrup and MSG should be avoided because these ingredients excited the pleasure center of your brain making it much more difficult to respond to your leptin hormones. So basically, the more foods you consume with these ingredients, the louder the voice saying, “Pass those cookies this-a-way,” will become and the softer the voice saying, “You are full!” will become. Also, your cells become more sensitive and responsive to leptin when you exercise and build muscle!

Medical Advice Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship.

© 2011, Dr J Renae Norton. This information is intellectual property of Dr J Renae Norton. Reproduction and distribution for educational purposes is permissible.

Please credit ‘© 2011, Dr J Renae Norton. http://edpro.wpengine.com’

Sources:

The National Center for Biotechnology Information – Leptin in anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa: importance of assay technique and method of interpretation (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11919545)