Bigger Belly Means Greater Death Risk


When Dr. Fuhrman wrote Eat to Live he pointed out that obesity is a major detriment to long term. It sets you up for a whole mess of health problems. Here’s an excerpt:
Obesity is an important predictor of chronic ailments and quality of life than any other public scourge. In a recent survey of 9,500 Americans, 36 percent were overweight and 23 percent were obese, yet only 19 percent were daily smokers and 6 percent heavy drinkers.

With time, the ravages of obesity predispose the typical American adult to depression, diabetes, and hypertension and increase the risks of death in all ages and in almost every ethnic and gender group. The U.S. Surgeon General has reported that 300,000 deaths annually are caused by or related to obesity.
Clearly he’s onto something. A new study has determined that a large waist circumference is linked to an increased risk of death. Reuters reports:
"People should not only look at their weight, but also consider their waist," Dr. Annemarie Koster of the National Institute on Aging, the lead researcher on the study, told Reuters Health.


Being overweight or obese is clearly bad for one's health, but the best way to gauge whether a person's fatness is putting them at risk has been "controversial," Koster and her team write in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Body mass index, or BMI, has been the standard measurement used, they add, but the way fat is distributed throughout the body -- especially at the waistline -- may be even more important than how many excess pounds a person is carrying.

To investigate the relationship among belly fat, BMI and mortality, the researchers followed 245,533 men and women participating in the National Institutes of Health-American Association of Retired Persons study. Study participants ranged in age from 51 to 72 at the study's outset, and were followed for nine years.

Among men, the researchers found, those in the top fifth based on their waist circumference were about 22 percent more likely to die during the study period than men with trimmer waistlines, independent of BMI. A similar risk was seen among women.
Why are some many Americans obese? In his new book, Eat for Health, Dr. Fuhrman believes that people are simply making the wrong food choices. Take a look:
Many people suffer from medical ailments because they were never taught about their bodies’ nutritional requirements. We eat entirely too many low-nutrient foods, which gives us excessive calories without enough nutrients. Our nutrient-deprived body then craves more food, and the availability of calorie-rich, low-nutrient foods enables us to eat ourselves to death. A diet based on milk, meats, cheese, pasta, bread, fried foods, and sugar-filled snacks and drinks lays the groundwork for obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, digestive disorders, and autoimmune illnesses.
Here’s an experiment. Go to the supermarket and count the number of people in the produce isle and then the snack food isle. Let me know what happens.

Diabetes Flying High in the United States


“As the number of people with type-two (adult onset) diabetes continues to soar, it is openly recognized that the growing waistline of the modern world is the main cause of this epidemic; however, most physicians, dieticians, and even the American Diabetes Association have virtually given up on weight reduction as the primary treatment for diabetics,” explains Dr. Fuhrman. I think he’s onto something, because a new report announces that U.S. diabetes rates have skyrocketed. The Associated Press is on it:
A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based on data from 2007, said the number represents an increase of about 3 million over two years. The CDC estimates another 57 million people have blood sugar abnormalities called pre-diabetes, which puts people at increased risk for the disease.

The percentage of people unaware that they have diabetes fell from 30 percent to 25 percent, according to the study.

Dr. Ann Albright, director of the CDC Division of Diabetes Translation, said the report has "both good news and bad news."

"It is concerning to know that we have more people developing diabetes, and these data are a reminder of the importance of increasing awareness of this condition, especially among people who are at high risk," Albright said in a statement.

"On the other hand, it is good to see that more people are aware that they have diabetes."
It’s disheartening, especially when you consider that there’s an easier way. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
It is well accepted that if it were possible for people to stick with weight reduction and high nutrient eating, that route would be the most successful. Patients with diabetes who successfully lose weight from undergoing gastric bypass surgery typically see their diabetes melt away.1 Dietary programs that have been successful at effecting weight loss have been dramatically effective for diabetics too, enabling patients to discontinue medications.2 Preventing and reversing diabetes is not all about weight loss.
What sounds harder? Convincing people to stick themselves with needles for the rest of their life, or, eat better and feel great.
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Male Diabetics: Stay Fit, Live Longer


According to a new study fitness is a very important component in determine male diabetics’ lifespan. Kevin McKeever of HealthDay News is on it:
"Death rates were the highest for those who were 'low fit' in all weight categories," researcher Dr. Roshney Jacob-Issac, an endocrinology fellow at George Washington University Hospital, said in a prepared statement.

Researchers used 2,690 male diabetic veterans in VA hospitals, most of whom were overweight or obese based on their body mass index (BMI), a measure of body fat using height and weight.

The vets were categorized as having low, moderate or high fitness level, depending on their performance on a standard treadmill exercise tolerance test.

The researchers found that the higher the man's level of fitness, the lower his risk of dying during the study period. For example, those in the high fitness level -- whether at normal body weight or overweight -- reduced their risk of death by 40 percent. The findings were even more dramatic for those classified as obese but in reasonable good shape: a cut in death risk of 52 percent, when compared to peers not physically fit, the study found during its seven-year follow-up period.

"Diabetics should improve their fitness level or exercise capacity to at least a moderate level, by being physically active. Weight loss is great, but being active is just as important," Jacob-Issac advised.
If you ask me, exercise is always a good idea!

Heart Health: No Point in Monitoring Blood Sugar?


New research contends that individuals with type-2 diabetes do not lower their heart attack and stroke risk by controlling their blood sugar. More from Gina Kolata of The New York Times:
The results provide more details and bolster findings reported in February, when one of the studies, by the National Institutes of Health, ended prematurely. At that time, researchers surprised diabetes experts with the announcement that study participants who were rigorously controlling their blood sugar actually had a higher death rate than those whose blood sugar control was less stringent.

Now the federal researchers are publishing detailed data from that study for the first time. Researchers in the second study, from Australia and involving participants from 20 countries, are also publishing their results on blood sugar and cardiovascular disease. That study did not find an increase in deaths, but neither did it find any protection from cardiovascular disease with rigorous blood sugar control.

Thus both studies failed to confirm a dearly held hypothesis that people with Type 2 diabetes could be protected from cardiovascular disease if they strictly controlled their blood sugar.

It was a hypothesis that seemed almost obvious. Cardiovascular disease accounts for 65 percent of deaths among people with Type 2 diabetes. And since diabetes is characterized by high levels of blood sugar, the hope was that if people with diabetes could just get their blood sugar as close to normal as possible, their cardiovascular disease rate would be nearly normal as well.
Dr. Fuhrman was not impressed by this report. His thoughts:
That is because when you are an overweight diabetic the metabolic consequences are not the blood sugar alone and taking drugs is not the answer. Some of the drugs (especially insulin) cause weight gain and make the metabolic syndrome worse. Losing weight, exercising and eating high on the nutrient density line is the answer, not more medications.
Not more medications! But how will the drug companies make bigger profits?

Blood Sugar, Not Just for Diabetics


Diabetics know all about blood sugar, but it matters to non-diabetics too. So, when you make food choices, keep blood sugar in mind. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
The combination of fat and refined carbohydrates has an extremely powerful effect on driving the signals that promote fat accumulation on the body. Refined foods cause a swift and excessive rise in blood sugar, which in turn triggers insulin surges to drive the sugar out of the blood and into our cells. Unfortunately, insulin also promotes the storage of fat on the body and encourages your fat cells to swell.

As more fat is packed away on the body, it interferes with insulin uptake into our muscle tissues. Our pancreas then senses that the glucose level in the bloodstream is still too high and pumps out even more insulin. A little extra fat around our midsection results in so much interference with insulin’s effectiveness that two to five times as much insulin may be secreted in an overweight person than in a thin person.
And a new study insists that blood sugar levels are indeed important to diabetes-free people too. Reuters reports:
Only a few prospective studies have looked at associations between blood sugar levels among subjects initially free of diabetes and subsequent risk of death, Dr. Naomi Brewer, of Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand, and colleagues point out in the journal Diabetes Care.


Hemoglobin A1C testing -- a standard way to measure blood sugar -- was offered to people without diabetes during a screening program for hepatitis B in a region of New Zealand from 1999 to 2001. Mortality risk was examined to the end of 2004 in these subjects.

Among a total of 47,904 individuals, whose average age was 38 years, 815 died during the median follow-up of 4.4 years.

Brewer's team found that the risk of premature death rose in tandem with blood sugar levels. The risk of death increased steadily from the A1C "reference category" (4.0% to less than 5.0%) to the highest A1C category (7.0% or higher).
Sadly, I think too many people only worry about blood sugar after they’re staring at a diabetes diagnosis.

Mediterranean Diet vs. Type-2 Diabetes

The Mediterranean diet is supposed to be healthy, but many members of my Italian, pasta and olive oil eating extended family have endured obesity, heart disease, and cancer. Is there something wrong here? Maybe so, Dr. Fuhrman explains:
In the 1950s people living in the Mediterranean, especially on the island of Crete, were lean and virtually free of heart disease. Yet over 40 percent of their caloric intake come from fat, primarily olive oil. If we look at the diet they consumed back then, we note that Cretans ate mostly fruits, vegetables, beans and some fish. Saturated fat was less than 6 percent of their total fat intake. True, they ate lots of olive oil, but the rest of their diet was exceptionally healthy. They also worked hard in the fields, walking about nine miles a day, often pushing a plow or working other manual farm equipment.
Well, my family does eat a lot of olive and fish, but they’re certainly not plowing any fields. Actually, their diet and lifestyle is more like the diet of modern Crete. Back to Dr. Fuhrman:
Today the people of Crete are fat, just like us. They're still eating alot of olive oil, but their consumption of fruits, vegetables, and beans is down. Meat, cheese, and fish are their new staples, and their physical activity level has plummeted. Today, heart disease has skyrocketed and more than half the population of both adults and children in Crete is overweight.1
So I’m not sure you can bank on the results of this study. According to new research in the British Medical Journal adhering to a Mediterranean diet can protect you against developing type-2 diabetes. HealthDay News reports:
A Mediterranean diet is often recommended as a way to guard against cardiovascular disease, but whether it protects against diabetes hasn't been established. The diet emphasizes olive oil, vegetables, fruits, nuts, cereals, legumes and fish, and deemphasizes meat and dairy products.

"The Mediterranean diet is a healthful eating plan that seems to help in the prevention of heart disease," said Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, who was not involved with the study. "Consumption of the Mediterranean diet will support health and may aid in the prevention of several diseases," she added.

For the study, published online May 30 in the British Medical Journal, researchers tracked the diets of 13,380 Spanish university graduates with no history of diabetes. Participants filled out a 136-item food questionnaire, which measured their entire diet (including their intake of fats), their cooking methods and their use of dietary supplements.

During an average of 4.4 years of follow-up, the team found that people who adhered to a Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, those who stuck very closely to the diet reduced their risk by 83 percent.
I think what attracts people to the Mediterranean diet is that it sound exotic and it is better than the Standard American Diet, but it’s not good enough! Time to start eating a nutrient-dense vegetable-based diet!
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