InsightCity uses the F word

Obese, that F word. It’s not news that the United States and others have an obesity problem. A recent study in the journal Pediatrics found “a positive linear trend for all definitions of overweight and obesity among children 2-19 years old.” In fact, 40% of 16-19-year-olds and 15% of 2-5-year-olds in the U.S. are obese, the study finds. This runs counter, they say, to other reports that claim obesity rates are stabilizing or declining. The researchers posit that wide-spread availability of nutritional crap (InsightCity’s words, not the researchers’) is outpacing any effects of heightened awareness from national campaigns such as those run by the NFL (Play 60), Michelle Obama (Let’s Move), and others. Medicine can’t be our only hope…can it?

Precision medicine + diabetes

Time to break down diabetes into more subtypes than the amount of Wilford Brimley parodies there are on YouTube. Ok that might be an exaggeration because there are a TON, but Swedish & Finnish researchers are making an argument that we should probably have more than just the current two subtypes. They propose keeping Type 1 as its own thing, but expanding Type 2 into four clusters that are more descriptive of their causes. The basic breakdown is: Cluster 1, severe autoimmune (the former Type 1;) Cluster 2, severe insulin-deficiency; Cluster 3, severe insulin-resistant; Cluster 4, mild obesity-related; and Cluster 5, mild age-related. According to researcher Leif Groop, this is “a real step towards precision medicine. In the ideal scenario, this is applied at diagnosis and we target treatment better.” Increasingly patient-centric approaches will always get a thumbs-up from us.

The dia-tarian diet

Two options: honey lemon chicken or marinated tofu. I know, I know that’s not a tough choice and face it, even vegans would choose the chicken if they could. But for the 150 million+ diabetics worldwide, tofu and cooked millet may become your new favorite meal. OK, so the favorite part may be an exaggeration, but hey, if a vegetarian diet can increase weight loss and improve your metabolism then it’s worth a shot, or a taste. Yep, according a new study this veggie diet beat out the conventional diabetic diet on both counts, just not the taste category. Of course with diabetes prevalence expected to double by 2025 and with one-third of the world now considered overweight, we may want to consider rewiring our taste buds.

A big, fat mistake?

When dietary guidelines were issued by the US and UK governments in 1977 and 1983, they were badly supported by evidence, so says a recent publication in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Guidelines called for total fat and saturated fat to contribute no more than 30% and 10%, respectively, to a person’s total energy intake. According to study authors, while authorities acknowledged at the time that the link between fat consumption and heart problems was unsupported, guidelines were released on the grounds that “it couldn’t hurt.” Study authors draw parallels between the introduction of the fat guidelines and the beginning of the rise in rates of obesity and diabetes. They posit that lowering fat consumption may have been instrumental in the skyrocketing incidence and prevalence rates for diabesity.

There’s no “good fat” when it comes to obesity

Is it possible to be simultaneously hefty and healthy? In a study presented at the European Congress of Obesity, researchers who scrutinized 20 years of electronic health records for 3.5 million people discovered that people who were overweight, but did not have any of the metabolic problems usually linked to excess weight, were more prone to develop metabolic problems. Compared to non-overweight individuals, “healthy obese people had a 50% higher risk of heart disease, a 7% higher risk of stroke, twice the risk of heart failure and a greater risk for peripheral artery disease.” The takeaway: physicians should encourage weight loss among obese patients irrespective of metabolic abnormalities.

Who keeps messing with the thermostat?!

There is new research on a method to combat diabetes and obesity, and you won’t need a pharmacy card or a gym membership to give it a try—just permission to mess with the bottom line of the utility bill. A new study, “Healthy Excursions Outside the Thermal Comfort Zone,” shows that dropping your building’s temperature below the comfort zone (21-22 °C; 69.8-71.6 °F for you Americans) can increase metabolism and energy expenditure. Mild cold, specifically, can increase glucose metabolism and was shown to increase insulin sensitivity by 40% in patients with Type 2 diabetes over a 10-day period. “This is comparable with the best available pharmaceutical or physical activity therapies,” according to the study. So…go adjust your coworker’s thermostat. They can thank you later.