Whether we like it or not, we have an epidemic on our hands. Whether you are overweight, obese or not, classifying obesity as a disease will affect you, if it hasn’t already. Changes are in order. Simply classifying obesity as a disease does not make the necessary changes automatically occur and I’ve already expressed my concern with the direction I think this could go.
Fructose is processed in our bodies similarly to ethanol (alcohol). Actually, chronic consumption of fructose shares 8 of the 12 side effects of chronic ethanol consumption. Fructose is like alcohol without the buzz. How do you make alcohol? Ferment sugar! Due to the fact that fructose consumption has no immediate side effects, the government will not regulate it. When the government won’t step in to make necessary changes, it becomes our responsibility.
In 2007, Yale University published a meta-analysis of 88 cross-sectional and longitudinal studies looking at the effects of soda consumption. They reported that consistent soda consumption correlates to an overall increase in average energy consumption (we eat more), increased body weight, decreased milk and calcium consumption, and decreased consumption of adequate nutrition. This even included studies sponsored by major soft drink companies, which had consistently smaller correlations vs. the independent studies. When the companies won’t admit fault and make changes, it becomes our responsibility.
We must make the changes. The supply won’t budge until the demand changes.
What are some things we can do?
- Lead by example. Our friends, family members, kids and our kids’ kids will learn and copy from what we eat and drink. Adopt a lifestyle of healthy, whole foods and consistent exercise.
- Get rid of sugar-sweetened beverages. Fruit juice, Soda, Gatorade. Wait, fruit juice?! Isn’t that good for you? Fruit juice is basically sugar and contains no fiber, unlike fresh fruit. In 2008, a nurse’s study linked fruit juice consumption to type 2 diabetes.
- Increase your fiber intake. Eat FRESH fruits and veggies. This helps lessen your insulin response, especially when eating carbohydrates. A more controlled insulin response reduces your chances for fat storage and type 2 diabetes.
- Wait 20 minutes before getting second helpings. Leptin, a hormone responsible for telling our brains we are full, takes time to respond.
- Buy your screen time with activity. Minute for minute. This is a hard one but will help to increase your activity levels. Screen time includes: computer, TV, texting and video games.
- Drink more water. General recommendation is at least half your body weight in ounces each day.
- Control your immediate food environment (food in home, at desk, etc.). If the “bad” food isn’t in the house, we’re less likely to eat it. When grocery shopping, keep two things in mind: stick to the grocery list and shop around the perimeter. Only go to the middle aisles for specific items on your list.
- Be aware of serving sizes, especially when we splurge. The average size of the classic Coke has increased from 6.5oz in 1915, 12oz in 1960 to 20oz in 1992. It’s ok to occasionally enjoy the good things in life but be very cautious not to overindulge.
- Have blood work done on a regular basis. Know your numbers!
- Exercise! Why is exercise important, especially in obesity? I’ll give you a hint; it’s actually not the number of calories you burn.
- Improves skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity (decreases insulin)
- Reduces stress and resultant cortisol release (decreases appetite)
- Makes TCA cycle run faster and detoxifies fructose, improving hepatic insulin sensitivity (higher metabolism)