With concern rising around our nation’s obesity epidemic, experts are frantically trying to determine what the specific causes are, and more importantly, what the solution is. Among a number of experts is Dr. Robert Lustig, the man who’s become the face of the ‘sugar is toxic’ movement.
Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, gained notoriety after posting his lecture titled ‘Sugar: The Bitter Truth‘ on YouTube in 2009, which has since gained more than 2.3 million hits.
Lustig believes sugar is the major cause of most of the health-related diseases Americans are facing today, including obesity and type 2 diabetes. And he thinks that 75% of these diseases are preventable if we’d just cut back on our sugar consumption.
According to a recent CNN report, the average American teenager consumes about 4 pounds of sugar a week – which translates to 200 pounds a year. And based on the figures of our nation’s health as a whole, the average adult isn’t far behind.
When Dr. Sanjay Gupta asked Dr. Lustig if sugar is just empty calories or if it’s more than that, Lustig responded saying everyone thinks obesity is caused by eating too much and exercising too little. But he disagrees, saying obesity is a marker for metabolic disfunction. And if you look at what we’re eating in America, it’s not any more fat – it’s sugar. (more…)
Last year we found, and republished, an interesting graphic that pondered a curious question – which is worse, soda or marijuana? A side-by-side comparison of the two pits the processed against the natural, the legal versus the illegal. While we could debate the pros and cons of each all day long, to the pleasure center of the brain, they are one in the same.
A fascinating piece aired on CBS’ 60 Minutes tonight with the foremost researcher on addiction, Dr. Nora Volkow, head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In 2007, she was named by Time Magazine as one “of the 100 men and women whose power, talent or moral example is transforming the world.” Tonight’s Hooked: Why Bad Habits are Hard to Break explained the chemistry behind addiction and showed that whether it’s a hamburger or heroine, soda or marijuana, our brain sees them exactly the same – as triggers for a rush of dopamine.
Morley Safer reported and described Dr. Volkow as the woman who has “revolutionized how science and medicine view addiction: as a disease, not a character defect.” She told him that the “Just Say No” campaign is just “magic of thinking.”
“If it were that easy…there’d be no obesity,” or other physical signs of addiction. In other words, addiction stems from deep within the pleasure center of our brains, and all the willpower, support, and motivation in the world can’t always turn it off.
With obesity being the number one public health problem facing Americans today, finding long-term solutions that reduce the harmful effects of this growing epidemic. On the 4/20/08 episode of 60 Minutes, Lesley Stahl reported on the surprising healthy effects that having weight loss surgery is having on many patients. When the surgery is performed and the individual adheres to the post-operative dietary and exercise guidelines, reductions in hypertension, coronary artery disease, Type II diabetes are seen as well as reduced risk for certain cancers like breast, colon, endometrial cancers. Obviously, bariatric surgery is not just about losing pounds. These new findings are also broadening the medical community’s knowledge of the complex interplay between obesity and these other health conditions.