Food supply the culprit?

Reply Sat 12 Aug, 2006 11:55 am
Link here -
Provocative little article in today's San Francisco Chronicle

A portion of the article -

Obese? A 'poisoned' food supply may be to blame, UCSF expert says
Doctor has yet to test theory that sugar triggers a starvation reaction in the brain

Erin Allday, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, August 12, 2006

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Feeling fat? It might not be your fault.

The obesity epidemic is caused by a "poisoned" food supply that is altering people's biochemistry and driving them to eat more and move less, according to a hypothesis proposed by a UCSF doctor who culled results from thousands of studies on obesity.

It is unfair and unhelpful to blame personal behaviors, especially a lack of self-control, for the country's rising obesity rates, says Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatrician and nationally renowned obesity expert.

The processed food that is most readily available to Americans -- from potato chips and cookies to yogurt and white bread -- is loaded with sugars that cause the body to believe that it is hungry, which makes people feel compelled to consume more calories and conserve energy, he said. Sugar makes the body produce more insulin, which blocks hormones that would normally tell the brain to stop eating, he said.

Breaking the pattern of sugar consumption -- a pattern that Lustig compares to nicotine addiction -- is more than just a matter of willpower. It will take a grassroots effort of doctors, community leaders and consumers to force the government and the food industry to get those sugary foods out of mainstream American diets, he said.

"Everyone's assuming you have a choice, but when your brain is starving, you don't have a choice," Lustig said. "When you look at it that way, all of a sudden Big Food looks like the perpetrator, and the patient becomes the victim. Congress says you can't sue McDonald's for obesity because it's your fault. Except the thing is, when you don't have a choice, it's not your fault."

Lustig's hypothesis, published Friday in Nature Clinical Practice: Endocrinology and Metabolism, was met with some skepticism from obesity experts who are reluctant to label overweight people as victims of their food supply with not a lot of hope to lose weight without major changes in America's food culture. Clearly, there is a link between obesity and people's diets and level of activity, but Lustig says that he has not yet attempted to prove his hypothesis with lab trials. His research was based on the results of obesity studies published between 1994 and 2005.

The article goes on to explain some things about the metabolism of sugar.
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Reply Sat 12 Aug, 2006 03:10 pm
Another interesting article, Osso.
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Reply Sat 12 Aug, 2006 03:57 pm
I'm pretty confident a lot of folks are eating way too much sugar and that affects hunger mechanisms... but I am not so confident about the victim terminology. My overweightness, 2 b.m.i. points, is to a large extent a matter of exercise, not diet - I don't cook with processed/packaged foods much if at all and don't find them hard to avoid. I don't drink soft drinks, and so on. But, I will agree there's massively too much sugar and salt in a lot of what is available out there for our health in general.

Would like to see it all tested in well-done studies.
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Reply Sat 12 Aug, 2006 07:25 pm
Yes, my response is similar to yours, down the line.

I think the willpower thing is way too simplistic -- there are all kinds of biological aspects to this, from genetics to changes a person's body + brain undergo according to what + how they eat.

At the same time, while it may be much hardER for person A to lose weight than for person B, it is very rare that someone simply can't lose weight at all, and the whole "not their fault" thing makes me a bit itchy, in terms of what then?
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Reply Sun 13 Aug, 2006 01:14 pm
Recently I read that artificially sweetened soft drinks can stimulate the appetite--something about the brain being conditioned to taste sweetness as a precursor of simple carbohydrates.
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Reply Sun 13 Aug, 2006 01:34 pm
Interesting article.

I also get itchy by the first sentence. Mainly bc the possible concequences to those who would like to lose weight, but are still searching for easy answers and a reason to not work for it. Cutting sugar would be good though.

My experience here:
*I don't usually drink pop. When I do have the occasional glass, I can literally feel myself getting thirstier. I'll be reaching for more, and more. And loads of water.

*I have unusually high levels of certain hormones which make me prone to mood swings (and other fun mental stuff), growing more hair than most women, reproductive complications and irregular periods/period pain, amongst other things.

About a half to a year ago I went to the doctor bc I was shaking all the time. Full body shakes. I think I posted about it here. I was hoping it was just anxiety or other stuff related to flucuating hormones and lifestyle. That's what it was.

One of the recommendations he had was to cut ALL white sugar, glucose/fructose. No syrups, no pies. Cut down on condiments and canned foods, prepackaged stuff with sugar added (it's amazing what has sugar in it!).

Well, I did. Occasionally I will have a conscious binge, occasionally i'll eat a small thing with sugar.
Without all the sugar:
*my shakes went down markably, now i don't get them except when i'm really nervous/stressed
*my period pain got better
*my mood improved
*my fitness goals were much easier to reach, it became easier to eat well overall too
*i don't get as many headaches, and i haven't had a migraine

There's other elements involved, obviously, but I am convinced that sugar was making sicker.
When I binge on sugary stuff now, I feel worse within the hour and it lasts for at least a day.

Just my experience, but I go out of my way now to suggest to anyone:
Cut out the sugar! Yes, it isn't easy at first....but it is worth it.
Your body adjusts and likes real food. Smile
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Reply Sun 13 Aug, 2006 02:26 pm
There's another interesting article this a.m. in the New York Times magazine, re fat and bacteria and/or viruses. Thread about it here -


On the sugar, I'm sure it's part of the obesity picture, especially the 'hidden' sugars in many processed and packaged foods - my comment is that I'm not convinced it is all so hard to avoid - I just don't think cooking with fresh foods, or at least fresh frozen, is all that hard in town or city in a developed country. But, I don't buy much frozen food so I don't know about what additives are in most of it, and have been spoiled by living in California, where fresh local produce is usually available at least in one of an area's grocery stores a fair part of the year. So, maybe it's harder than I think. I realize I'm lucky to not have spent a lot of years around fast food restaurants too, so that where I've lived, if one didn't have time or inclination to cook there were at least a few restaurants with some healthy food, and sometimes many of them. What a spoiled brat.

I think it is a problem that when people are just squeaking by there are only unhealthy fast food places nearby and not much fresh produce in markets. And the alternative of most inexpensive packaged foods is oversugared, oversalted, and much else.

I've long thought it would be a great idea to do healthy fast food places - I'm sure we've had a thread about that somewhere. But when there aren't, I can see the point of the "victim" comment.
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Reply Sun 13 Aug, 2006 02:31 pm
Yeah. The other point is the issues re: what's available geographically -- like, in a given inner-city neighborhood the healthy choices are often severely curtailed as compared to more affluent suburban areas. More fast-food places, much less fresh produce, and less viable options for getting out of that geographical area and into one that is healthier. (i.e. low car ownership.)

It goes back to, it's not impossible for a motivated person to lose weight anyway, but the deck is really stacked against some people.
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Reply Sun 13 Aug, 2006 02:44 pm
Agreed, Sozobe.
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Reply Sun 13 Aug, 2006 02:51 pm
Interesting effects of your cutting way down on sugar, flush'd.

I do think it's not all so horrible to eat fruit and drink fruit juice.. that one can and should have a reasonable amount as long as one isn't loading up on soft drinks and ice cream and candy..
Probably needs to be watched with diabetes. How do you do now, flush'd, with eating fruit?
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Reply Sun 13 Aug, 2006 03:01 pm
During the WW II the government paid private companies to develop "convenience" foods which could be stored at room temperature and "cooked" in primitive conditions by untrained chefs.

After the war the food companies applied this research to the civilian market. Civilians don't have to be kept in fighting trim. The civilian's job is to buy-buy-buy. The product has to be easy and tasty.

Consequently, cooking is out of style for the overworked and the uneducated.
Reply Tue 2 Sep, 2008 09:22 pm
Bumping this as still interesting to me and wondering if any more studies have been done on this...
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