Lesson 1 of 7 - free your true Self to guide you

Three Recent Research
Summaries About U.S. Obesity

Symptoms of the epidemic
(wounds + unawareness) cycle


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        These three mass-media articles focus on a growing American problem - major health risks from adults and kids obesity. The researchers completely miss the underlying real problems - rampant U.S. self neglect and denial caused by ineffective parenting. Note my other comments following these three summaries. The hilights below are mine.

Peter K. Gerlach, MSW

Study predicts 75 percent overweight in U.S. by 2015

Reuters News Service,
via Yahoo news 7/18/07

If people keep gaining weight at the current rate, fat will be the norm by 2015, with 75 percent of U.S. adults overweight and 41 percent obese, U.S. researchers predicted on Wednesday.

A team at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore examined 20 studies published in journals and looked at national surveys of weight and behavior for their analysis, published in the journal Epidemiologic Reviews.

"Obesity is a public health crisis. If the rate of obesity and overweight continues at this pace, by 2015, 75 percent of adults and nearly 24 percent of U.S. children and adolescents will be overweight or obese," Dr. Youfa Wang, who led the study, said in a statement.

They defined adult overweight and obesity using a standard medical definition called body mass index. People with a BMI of 25 or above are considered overweight, while those with BMIs of 30 or above are obese and at serious risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

Studies show that 66 percent of U.S. adults were overweight or obese in 2003 and 2004. An alarming 80 percent of black women aged 40 or over are overweight and 50 percent are obese.

Sixteen percent of U.S. children and adolescents are overweight and 34 percent are at risk of becoming overweight, according to federal government figures.

Every group is steadily getting heavier, Wang said.

"Our analysis showed patterns of obesity or overweight for various groups of Americans," said May Beydoun, who worked on the study.

"Obesity is likely to continue to increase, and if nothing is done, it will soon become the leading preventable cause of death in the United States."

Obesity Rates Show no Decline in US

 By KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press Writer
Yahoo News, Aug 27, 2007

Loosen the belt buckle another notch: Obesity rates continued to climb in 31 states last year, and no state showed a decline.

Mississippi became the first state to crack the 30 percent barrier for adults considered to be obese. West Virginia and Alabama were just behind, according to the Trust for America's Health, a research group that focuses on disease prevention.

Colorado continued its reign as the leanest state in the nation with an obesity rate projected at 17.6 percent.

This year's report, for the first time, looked at rates of overweight children ages 10 to 17. The District of Columbia had the highest percentage 22.8 percent. Utah had the lowest 8.5 percent.

Health officials say the latest state rankings provide evidence that the nation has a public health crisis on its hands.

Unfortunately, we're treating it like a mere inconvenience instead of the emergency that it is,"
said Dr. James Marks, senior vice president at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a philanthropy devoted to improving health care.

Officials at the Trust for America's Health want the government to play a larger role in preventing obesity. People who are overweight are at an increased risk for diabetes, heart problems and other chronic diseases that contribute to greater health care costs.

"It's one of those issues where everyone believes this is an epidemic, but it's not getting the level of political and policymaker attention that it ought to," said Jeffrey Levi, the organization's executive director. "As every candidate for president talks about health care reform and controlling health care cost costs, if we don't home in on this issue, none of their proposals are going to be affordable."

At the same time, many believe weight is a personal choice and responsibility. Levi doesn't dispute that notion, but he said society can help people make good choices.

"If we want kids to eat healthier food, we have to invest the money for school nutrition programs so that school lunches are healthier," he said. "If we want people to be more physically active, then there have to be safe places to be active. That's not just a class issue. We've designed suburban communities where there are no sidewalks for anybody to go out and take a walk."

To measure obesity rates, Trust for America's Health compares data from 2003-2005 with 2004-2006. It combines information from three years to improve the accuracy of projections. The data come from a survey of height and weight taken over the telephone. Because the information comes from a personal estimate, some believe it is conservative.

Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study last year noting a national obesity rate of about 32 percent a higher rate than was cited for any of the states in the Trust for America's Health report. The CDC's estimate came from weighing people rather than relying on telephone interviews, officials explained.

Generally, anyone with a body mass index greater than 30 is considered obese. The index is a ratio that takes into account height and weight. The overweight range is 25 to 29.9. Normal is 18.5 to 24.9. People with a large amount of lean muscle mass, such as athletes, can show a large body mass index without having an unhealthy level of fat.

A lack of exercise is a huge factor in obesity rates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found last year that more than 22 percent of Americans did not engage in any physical activity in the past month. The percentage is greater than 30 percent in four states: Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Meanwhile, Minnesotans led the way when it came to exercise. An estimated 15.4 percent of the state's residents did not engage an any physical exercise the best rate in the nation. Still, the state ranked 28th overall when it came to the percentage of obese adults.

Another factor in obesity rates is poverty. The five poorest states were all in the top 10 when it came to obesity rates. An exception to that rule was the District of Columbia and New Mexico. Both had high poverty rates, but also one of the lower obesity rates among adults.

Poverty can lead to less safe neighborhoods, which deter children from playing. It can lead to fewer grocery stores offering fruits and vegetables, and it can lead to greater reliance on fast food, officials said.

"It seems the cheapest foods are the worst ones for you," Marks said.

Officials said the report is not designed to stigmatize states with high obesity rates but to stir them into action.

"These are the states where the urgency is the greatest. They need not to wait for others to lead. They need to become the leaders," Marks said. "It's the only way that they can restore the health of their children and their families. It's the only way that they can improve their economic competitiveness." 

Copyright 2007 Yahoo! Inc. and he Associated Press. All rights reserved.


New method finds networks of genes behind obesity

By Maggie Fox, Reuters Health and Science Editor
Yahoo News, 3/16/08

Overeating disrupts entire networks of genes in the body, causing not only obesity, but diabetes and heart disease, in ways that may be possible to predict, researchers reported on Sunday.

The researchers developed a new method of analyzing DNA and used it to discover that obesity is not only complex -- something already known -- but complex in ways that had not been previously understood.

"Obesity is not a disease that is the result of a single change to a single gene. It changes entire networks," said Eric Schadt, executive director of Genetics at Merck Research Laboratories. His team identified networks of hundreds of genes that appear to be thrown out of kilter when mice are fed a high-fat diet.

"This network is completely rocked by exposure to a high-fat, Western-type diet," Schadt said.

They then turned to a database of Icelandic people being studied by Decode Genetics Inc and found people have the same networks.

The joint teams did a detailed study of 1,000 blood samples and almost 700 samples of fat tissues from some of the Icelandic volunteers. This showed that people who have a higher body mass index, a measurement of obesity, have characteristic patterns of gene activation in their fatty tissues not seen in DNA taken from blood.

"What it says it that the common forms of these diseases are very complex," said Schadt.

"Simple genetic tests cannot detect these networks," said Schadt, who also works at Merck subsidiary Rosetta Inpharmatics in Seattle. Schadt said his team hoped to study these networks and identify the genes most key to causing disease. New drugs can be designed to target their activity, he said.

Companies can also profit from making tests to detect a person's particular pattern and his or her risk of various diseases related to overeating.


"Good diet and exercise is still probably the best treatment or way to prevent the onset of obesity," Schadt said.

"If you are not going to alter your lifestyle, we can identify what network is going to be most significantly altered. Then we can bring that network more into a state to where it looks like when you are on a normal diet."

Schadt's team, writing in two studies published in the journal Nature, said the diseases of obesity appear to originate in the immune system.

"The network is enriched for genes that are involved in macrophages," Schadt said.

"In a normal state these things are keeping you free of infection and fighting off things that want to harm your body. This network is also significantly changed when you are on a high-fat diet," he added.

Some people have networks that predispose them to diabetes when they become obese, others to high cholesterol and clogged arteries.

Some network patterns appeared to predispose some people to so-called metabolic syndrome, in which patients develop a cluster of symptoms including high blood sugar, high blood pressure and clogged arteries.

And a lucky few can become obese with no apparent direct health consequences, at least as concerns heart disease and diabetes.

(Editing by Eric Beech)

Copyright 2008 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
Copyright 2008 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.


      These three typical mass-media reports add validity to the scope and danger of increasing American obesity. They suggest vaguely that "better diet and more exercise" will help to reduce epidemic excessive weight.

      None of these reports measured whether average Americans...

  • are fully aware of the major health risks from excessive weight, or

  • felt personally motivated to "eat better and exercise more."

The reports don't examine the causes, prevalence, or impact of food addiction - in general (compulsive overeating) and addiction to "comfort foods" in particular (fats, sugars, and carbohydrates). I believe all addictions are reflexive (unconscious) attempts to mute ''inner pain'' from significant psychological wounds from early-childhood abandonment, neglect, and abuse (trauma)..

        From 36 years' clinical research, I propose that non-genetic obesity is a symptom of the real problem: inherited psychological wounds and early-family dysfunction. Two of the wounds are excessive shame and reality distortion. Shame promotes a semi-conscious attitude of self-neglect ["I'm not worth caring about"]. Reality distortion manifests as minimizing (Aw, I'm a just little heavy,") and denial ("I'm not obese or at real risk of major diseases and premature death.")

      Average people (like you) and the scientists producing study results like these (and the media people who report them) are unaware of this core problem so far. As long as this is true, they will continue to suggest ineffective solutions like better school lunches, safe neighborhoods to exercise, and "good diet and exercise."

      If you're motivated to attain and keep a healthy body weight, invest time in studying and applying online Lesson 1 here. It costs nothing but time, and has NO ads. Also consider the ideas in this brief YouTube video on really ending "bad habits."

        For more perspective on inherited wounds and unawareness, also see these similar research studies. - Peter. K. Gerlach, MSW

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      Pause, breathe, and reflect - why did you read this article? Did you get what you needed? If not, what do you need? Who's answering these questions - your true Self, or ''someone else''?

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Updated April 11, 2015