A study compared medications taken by normal weight, overweight and obese Americans ages 25 to 70. While obese people of all ages took slightly more medications than those of normal weight, the differences were mainly among adults 40 and older.
According to the New York Times:
"For example, 28.7 percent of obese men and 25.2 percent of normal weight men ages 25 to 39 took medications. But among those 40 to 54, 60 percent of obese men were on medication, compared with 39.3 percent of men of average weight."
In some ways, I think this study may say more about the over-medicating of Americans than it does about the health of obese people. The study concluded that "there was little difference in current health status in normal-weight versus overweight people at all ages," however, I don't agree with the idea that you can measure the health status of a group of people simply by counting the number of drugs they're on, because a vast majority of people taking drugs do not actually NEED them.
We already know that over-medication is rampant in the US, so without actually looking at their individual lab tests and other facts, counting medications could offer a deceptive picture.
Many health problems also go undiagnosed, or may be misdiagnosed, and may therefore not be medicated. If you're simply counting medications as an indicator of health status, you're assuming that those that don't take meds are healthy… although in reality they may be far from it. And you're assuming those taking meds are ill, when in fact they may have been prescribed drugs that aren't warranted.
These questions aside, the study found that:
- Just over 25 percent of normal weight men aged 25-39 were on some form of medication
- Nearly 29 percent of obese men aged 25-39 took medications
- Just over 39 percent of normal weight men aged 40-54 were on medication, whereas
- 60 percent of obese men aged 40-54 took medications
So do these numbers really suggest that obesity might not significantly affect your health until you hit 40, as declared by the New York Times?
I think not.
The rise in type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease in increasingly younger age groups should be enough of a sign that obesity typically starts taking its toll far sooner than the age of 40.
Naturally, the health risks associated with obesity will rise with age. However, to insinuate that it might not pose a problem until middle age is foolhardy at best, because by then the damage is already done!
Health Problems Attributable to Obesity
Obesity is one of the greatest public health disasters facing the United States. A full two-thirds of the U.S. population is overweight or obese, and in some ethnic groups the rates are even higher, such as African-American women, of whom nearly 80 percent are currently either overweight or obese.
A number of studies have demonstrated links between obesity and a whole host of serious medical conditions, such as:
Depression Gastro esophageal reflux Sleep apnea Gout Osteoarthritis Gallbladder disease Kidney disease Diabetes High blood pressure High cholesterol Coronary artery disease Heart failure Atrial fibrillation Stroke Pulmonary hypertension Blood clots Dementia Numerous cancers
Other statistics on the danger of obesity includes:
- People who are moderately obese live two to five years less than people that have ideal weight.
- The lifespan of those who are severely obese might be reduced by five to 10 years.
- The biggest threat of obesity is heart disease, which is now the number one cause of death in the US.
Now, obesity itself is not the underlying cause of any health problem, it is merely a symptom.
In a nutshell, insulin resistance is the underlying factor of a large number of diseases, and one of the signs that you're a prime candidate for developing insulin resistance is obesity.
In essence, obesity is a warning bell. Ignoring this bell until you're in your 40s is simply not a wise move.
Insulin resistance is also directly linked to increased inflammation in your body, and chronic inflammation is the hallmark of high cholesterol, heart disease, and many other chronic health conditions.
It's quite clear that controlling your insulin levels is one of the most powerful ways to optimize your health and is also the most potent anti-aging strategy at your disposal.
What's the Primary Cause of Obesity, Insulin Resistance, and Chronic Inflammation?
In a word: fructose.
Yes, I know that may appear overly simplistic to many but I am entitled to my opinion and this is an area I have studied carefully for many years, and after evaluating many thousands of pages of documents, I am convinced that while there are clearly other variables that contribute to obesity such as lack of exercise, on a cultural scale it is the ingestion of fructose that is the primary variable contributing to the obesity epidemic.
A number of experts have identified fructose as the most significant dietary factor that directly causes obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and a number of other health problems.
In a recent article featuring an interview with Dr. Richard Johnson, I discussed compelling new evidence that links fructose consumption with increased uric acid levels, which is intricately linked to obesity and associated health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure.
I strongly advise you to read that article and listen to the interview to get a more in-depth understanding of the fructose/uric acid connection and how fructose wreaks havoc on your health.
But one of the most remarkable facts that came out of that interview that I will reiterate here was that you may actually be able to determine just how sensitive you are to fructose, meaning how well your body is able to process fructose without it causing excessive harm, by measuring your uric acid levels.
Uric Acid as a Marker for Fructose Toxicity
It seems quite clear that the rise in uric acid is an essential component of how fructose can cause as much damage as it does. And for that reason, uric acid levels are an excellent marker for toxicity from fructose.
According to the latest research in this area, the safest range of uric acid is between 3 and 5.5 milligrams per deciliter, and there appears to be a steady relationship between uric acid levels and blood pressure and cardiovascular risk, even down to the range of 3 to 4 mg/dl. Dr. Johnson suggests that the ideal uric acid level is probably around 4 mg/dl for men and 3.5 mg/dl for women.
Needless to say, the key step to optimize your uric acid levels if they are too high is the same as for optimizing your insulin levels, which is to drastically reduce or completely eliminate fructose and other sugars from your diet.
Preventing Obesity at its Source, and Taking Your Health to the Next Level
If you want to stay healthy and avoid all of the complications that go along with excess weight, the key lies in preventing obesity in the first place. And I don't believe that "bad" genes play a major role.
Diet is clearly the number one culprit.
When you start paying close attention to what you're eating, drastic beneficial changes can take place. Remember, there is no magic pill. Some might help kick-start things temporarily, but they can't keep you there.
There are, however, four tenets of long-term optimal health and weight that remain the same, regardless of the cause:
- Eat a healthy diet that's right for your nutritional type, paying very careful attention to keeping your insulin levels down, primarily by avoiding fructose as much as possible
- Get plenty of sleep
- Manage your stress
Remember, obesity is a direct result of poor dietary choices and insufficient exercise, but it's never too late to make changes for the better.
In addition to these four tenets of health, to truly bring your health to the next level, consider implementing the following five strategies as well:
- Optimize your vitamin D levels
- Drink only pure water
- Avoid toxins
- Eat the right fats, and make sure you're getting sufficient amounts of animal-based omega-3 fats
- Eat raw
By adhering to these basics of a healthy lifestyle, you will actively create a healthy mind and body, thereby safeguarding yourself against a multitude of health problems and serious diseases.