ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS TO OBESITY
“A low-fat plant-based diet would not only lower the heart attack rate about 85% but would lower the cancer rate 60%.”
William Castelli MD, Medical Director
Framingham Cardiovascular Institute.
Obesity will very soon be considered the leading cause of preventable death in the US. An obvious question is why don’t Americans reverse something so preventable and in order to stop the consequences from happening?
Apparently obesity is not really something easy to overcome. In fact, the actual incidences of obesity have kept rising over and over again for a full five decades or two generations! Unlike tobacco smoking, obesity is increasingly entrenched in our culture with no end in sight… but how and why?
DEPTH OF THE PROBLEM
According to the Obesity Society, “obesity is the most prevalent, fatal, chronic, relapsing disorder of the 21st century….a leading cause of United States mortality, morbidity, disability, health care utilization and health care costs. It is likely that the increase in obesity will strain our health care system with millions of additional cases of diabetes, heart disease and disability.” They add that obesity is “defined as excess adipose [fat] tissue” and that obesity is a disease affecting about 1/3rd of the American population with increases since the 1960’s that show no signs of abating. Interesting statistics they cite include:
INCREASES SINCE 1960’s – Adult Americans have increased average heights by 1 inch and average weights by 25 lbs.
WORLDWIDE PROBLEM – Obesity now ranks with major global health pandemics such as high blood pressure, malnutrition na unsafe sex in the total burden of diseases.
MASSIVE DEATHS- Obesity, as well as being overweight, is said to cause over 100,000 deaths among men and women in the US.
ADDS TO HEALTH CARE FINANCIAL CRISIS – Health care costs mostly associated with adult-onset obesity are said to approximate $147 billion dollars.
DISCRIMINATION COMPONENT – Social discrimination and bias against those who are obese may often be socially accepted and adds another depth-dimension to the crisis.
APPROACH TO OBESITY SOLUTIONS – MOST DIETS
Despite the growing number of diets to lose weight which are touted throughout the country, Americans just keep getting fatter. A government survey shows that 2/3rds of dieters gain all of their weight back within one year! An even larger portion, 97 percent, gain it all back within 5 years! Something is obviously wrong with these “solution diets.” Rather than engaging in such a yo-yo effect (and the health strains this causes) most obese individuals would have been better off not to diet at all. Note not a single research study indicates high protein diets like Dr. Atkins’ really work for more than a year. In fact, two studies showed the weight loss on such high-protein diets all but reversed or stalled after just 6 months. Atkins himself died of cardiovascular disease while weighing 258 lbs. I met Dr. Atkins at a health convention and can vouch for the fact that he did not look healthy to me.
WHY VEGETARIAN/VEGAN DIETS WORK
The truth is that, past commercial hype and vast amounts of misinformation, the vegetarian/vegan diets are the only research-proven ones to take and keep off weight long-term!
Why do such diets work? Vegan dishes are naturally low-in-fat so that calorie restriction strategies are less pressing. In other words you can eat as much of a low-fat vegan diet as you like without gaining weight. It is not necessary to count calories. According to Dr. Dean Ornish, the vegetarian approach allows one the very best of all worlds, as the title of on of his books indicates: “Eat More, Weigh Less.” Slim people consume about the same number of calories as fat individuals but develop more adipose or fat tissues because animal flesh foods contain more fat! Thus meat eaters have 3x the obesity rate as vegetarians and 9x that of vegans! While there are relatively rare adult vegans who are obese, adult – on average they are at least 10-20 lbs lighter.
Furthermore, and according to Dr. Colin Campbell of Cornell University, switching to a vegan diet will dramatically reduce the incidences of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and cancer. He states, “quite simply, the more you substitute plant foods for animal foods, the healthier you are likely to be. I now consider veganism to be the ideal diet. A vegan diet – particularly one that is low in fat – will substantially reduce disease risks. Plus we’ve seen no disadvantages from veganism. In every respect, vegans appear to enjoy equal or better health in comparison to both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.
54% INCREASE MEAT CONSUMPTION = 3X THE OBESITY
USDA Research Service Graph: Meat consumption [PDF]
|(retail cut equiv./ lb. per person)|
|222/144 = 54% increase in consumption per capita
|*Data for 2005 are estimates; data for 2006-2007 are projections.|
See USDA Agricultural Projections to 2016 for projections of future consumption.
Then why for God’s sakes isn’t every dietitian and physician, representing modern and objective science, on this powerful bandwagon? What is really going on here?
TREATMENT APPROACHES BASED ON VIEW OF CAUSES
- CONVENTIONAL - Conventional approaches to treating obesity include conventional diets (with no abandonment of animal-based protein diets, plus gene and drug therapies. The assumption is that our culture’s core dietary approaches are fine but that the key problem is far more internal (lack of willpower, excess personal appetite,with gene-driven cravings) – or internally biological and psychological.
-ALTERNATIVE - Our alternative approach for treating obesity has the opposite view. It sees a need for substantial alteration and improvement of the quality of nutrition in our culture. The assumption thus is that the key problem is far more external (diets that are missing nutrient-dense foods and intrinsically and artificially stimulate appetite for devitalized foods) via a massive external promoting of a) low-quality, mechanized food production and b) high-profit animal protein products. The benefits are channeled toward corporate profits rather than individual optimal health. The latter is further empowered by false nutritional claims, deceptively buttressed by efforts of media conglomerates (modern TV/print/radio ads). These have gained really unprecedented power over us ever since the 1960’s.
TRUTH BE TOLD
The unspoken truth is that the American Dietetic Association has been dominantly influenced by Big Food/AG & Big Pharma – and the way doctors used to be influenced by the tobacco industry. The companies producing the most devitalized foods with up to 10,000 chemicals used in food production and storage (those most causative of the obesity as well as cancer epidemic) – fast foods, hospital foods, and school vending machine foods – are also the primary sponsors and opinion-influencing agents of dietitians, school officials and doctors – and our regulators.
So the problem of obesity has entrenched socio-political-cultural roots. When these are not addressed and confronted, the problem tends to ever expand.
The key solution is to look for really alternative sources of information, worldviews and advice. Ultimately we need to step quite far outside the mechanical/commercially or culturally-corrupting approaches to both nature and our bodies so as to find the raw/naked wisdom that reliably can re-establishes our bearings in the world we live in.
1) Michele Simon, Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back
2) Randall Fitzgerald, The Hundred Year Lie – How Food and Medicine Are Destroying Your Health
3) Carol Simontacchi, The Crazy Makers: How the Food Industry Is Destroying Our Brains and Harming Our Children
4) Russell L. Blaylock, Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills
5) Christine Hoza Farlow, Food Additives: A Shopper’s Guide to What’s Safe & What’s Not