The Obesity Pandemic: A ReBlog

The Obesity/Diabesity Pandemic

Obesity is a major risk factor for the development of  type 2 diabetes mellitus, so much so that the epidemic is often called diabesity. It has been described as one of the most important crises that has invaded our public health system.

Global Statistics,  Source: Lancet

  • Since 1980, the number of adults with diabetes worldwide has quadrupled from 108 million to 422 million in 2014.
  • Diabetes is fast becoming a major problem in low and middle-income countries.
  • From 1980 to 2014, the prevalence of diabetes more than doubles for men in India and China.
  • Half of adults worldwide with diabetes in 2014 lived in five countries: China, India, USA, Brazil and Indonesia.

So what are some solutions?  

The standard American diet is in much need of an overhaul and our national food systems need to change if we wish to reverse or at least slow down this trend. Many say that it would take the same determination as the campaigns to change behaviors that were utilized during the campaigns against smoking. .

Prevention awareness should be first on the front lines of treating the people with prediabetes that can often be reversible using lifestyle modifications. There are already some prevention models in the community; however, these should be expanded so that they become more easily accessible to more people. The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) uses intensive behavioral therapy to help people lose a little bit of weight (typically 5-10%). When this program is followed, the number of people progressing to have diabetes comes down by more than half. In people over 60, the reduction was 70%.

Nutrition education should be incorporated into the school system in the early years to help young children understand the importance of knowing where our food comes from and why nutritious foods are the best choice. They can be taught about balanced eating, calories, reading labels and grocery shopping. Nutrition education can also be offered at the middle and high schools levels by returning to a revamped and modernized home economics course in the curriculum. 

A lingering problem has existed for many primary care physicians for many years in that they say they were never adequately prepared in nutrition principles in medical schools. In a survey of family physicians (2009), two thirds said that dealing with extremely obese patients is “frustrating “and one-half said treatments are often ineffective. This is reflected by a lack off obesity training.

Shockingly, another survey in 2010 of 140 doctors revealed that nearly one-third were not even familiar with the American Diabetes Association (ADA) prediabetes guidelines. Only 6 percent were able to identify all 11 risk factors and on average, the doctors could only identify just eight of the warning signs. Only 17 percent knew the correct laboratory values for blood glucose and only 11 percent said they would refer a patient to a behavioral weight loss program..

There should be an increased access to professional treatments. Medical professionals not trained in obesity management should refer their patients to outside providers such as dietitians, exercise trainers, behavior therapists, psychologists, or a new concept of health coaches. These providers should be trained, certified, and credentialed to protect the public from unscrupulous treatments and to provide quality care. Reimbursement of qualified health professionals needs to be enhanced to keep. Otherwise patient volume high and they lessen out-of-pocket expenses.

We have become a nation of non-cooks and prefer to have our meals prepared by someone else. Encourage home cooking and home kit meals to help to counter using fast foods and packaged highly processed meals loaded with calories, fat, sugar and salt.

Educate the public on food labeling including ingredient lists. Beware of food companies that promote products with a “health halo” meaning exaggerated claims are made that appear to make unhealthy foods seem healthy because of an added nutrient or ingredient. Corporations also mislead consumers with their labeling so they include four different types of sugar to keep sugar from being listed as the first ingredient. This is misleading to the consumer when attempting to make wise food choices.

Stop corporate-government partnerships and diminish lobbying.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) is funded by myriad food companies such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Kellogg’s. The dairy industry has a long history of influencing the food pyramid and Dietary Guidelines. A good example is the placing of a glass of milk on the MyPlate Logo.

Another health organization guilty of taking in millions from food companies is the American Heart Association. They offer a “Heart – Check logo for a price: $5, 490 to $7,500 that is renewable for another fee annually. The product has to be low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol to gain this “honor.” However, some products such as Boar’s Head processed meats have the logo and still may still contain high levels of sodium. If the AHA were sincere in their efforts to help consumers choose healthier foods to rein in obesity/diabetes, they would realize that research has shown that a 1.8 oz. daily serving of processed meat raised the risk of diabetes by 19 percent and heart disease by 42 percent. Most current dietary recommendations emphasize a reduction in processed meats (my emphasis).

There is bad news on rising obesity rates – read about them HERE.

It will take a concerted effort from government, politics, industry, communities, and consumers and the perpetrators of our obesigenic culture to begin to change this trend.

Can Ultraprocessed Food Contribute to Dementia?

 Is Eating Fast Food a Dementia Risk? 

The health risks of eating ultraprocessed foods —including sausages and burgers as well as pizza and ice cream — are well documented. They have been shown to raise the risk of obesity, diabetes, and cancer among other ailments. ( 

In a new study, researchers followed more than 10,000 Brazilians with an average age of 51 for more than 10 years. They found that people who consumed more than 20% of their daily calories from ultra processed foods had a 28% faster cognitive decline compared with those whose intake was less than 20%.  Unfortunately, that 20% is not a high threshold: just 400 calories out of the 2000 calorie diet. And most Americans are well over that, getting on average a whopping 58% of their calories from ultraprocessed foods.

 “The sample size is substantial and the followup extensive,” says Dr. David Katz, a nutrition specialist who was not involved in the study. While short of proof, this is robust enough that we should conclude ultraprocessed foods are probably bad for our brains,” 

Source: The Week. December 23, 2022, Volume 22, Issue 110.

Hail to the Caesar Salad

Hail to the Caesar Salad!! Adapted from Jeffrey C. Pommerville Alcamo’s Fundamentals of Microbiology, Eighth Edition.

For history buffs, the first Caesar salad is reported to have evolved on July 4, 1924, in the mind of Caesar Cardini, the proprietor of a restaurant (Caesar’s Restaurant) in Tijuana, Mexico. Cardini was desparate for a fill-in during a paraticular busy day, so he threw together some Romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese, lemon, garlic oil and raw eggs. ‘’

“Over the years the reputations of the salad and its inventor grew. The highlight of the preparation of the salad was at table side. However, a problem had existed for years – the raw eggs. They are used for adding creaminess to the dressing. Raw eggs had contributed to many sauces, e.g. Hollandaise Sauce without a problem and eating raw eggs had been considered to contribute protein to muscle bound young men. However, the problem became serious when eggs were omitted from the recipes due to reports of Salmonella infections that were traced to them and nothing else contributed to that wonderful quality of creaminess.”

The problem became a debate among Caesar salad connoisseurs – many felt that a Caesar salad is not really truly up to par unless the raw egg was present.

Now we have the choice of using pasteurized raw eggs that involves heating eggs in hot water or a microwave oven, then maintaining them at 134 degrees F in a hot air oven for one hour. This procedure has been shown to disable the Salmonella. Better yet is to use commercially produced pasteurized eggs, however, they are often hard to find and should be found in those eggs that meet the standards for egg pasteurization by the FDA. Until then you cannot find it safe to test the cookie dough, have eggs over easy or enjoy Caesar Salad the way it was meant to be.”

Does Calorie restriction affect immmune system response?


Can food restriction affect immune health?

 A new study says yes. Research reported in the journal Science investigated the relationship of eating fewer calories, immune response, and inflammation.

“The body makes both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory compounds, both called prostaglandins, so the body can ramp up an inflammatory response if it needs to, and also dial it back in order to not “burn down the house. If you have too high of an inflammatory response, you have an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and so on.”

Mark Bittman, David L. Katz MD. How to Eat: All Your Food Questions Answered.

Some undifferentiated cells from the bone marrow, proceed to the thymus gland to become T cells (T stands for thymus). The thymus is large at birth and increases until puberty, when it begins to shrink. Mature T cells become immunocompetent  (educated) meaning they colonize in the lymph nodes, spleen, and tonsils where potential interactions can occur with pathogens and other immune cells.

With aging, the thymus gland accumulates fat that interferes with thymus function.  Fewer T cells are produced; thus immune function decreases.  

Study participants restricted their caloric intake about 14% for two years. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) less thymus fat accumulated compared to a control group with no caloric restriction. Although no changes of gene expression were detected in the T cells DNA; however changes in the fat tissue showed that expression that encodes a protein involved with inflammation was inhibited by the calorie restriction.

Editor’s Note: “Moderately decreased food intake that does not cause malnutrition has beneficial effects on health span and lifespan in model organisms.” The authors stated.

Science. 2002 Feb 11;375(6581):671-677.

Tricks for Weight Loss?

Foods You Can Eat Without Gaining Weight

These healthy options are light on calories and fat, plus they fill you up

Healthy lettuce wraps with grilled cauliflower, cabbage and tomatoes. Top view over a dark slate background. Plant-based diet concept.


Stephanie Watson,


January 20, 2023

Cutting is critical when you’re trying to lose weight. You cut calories. You cut fat. Basically, anything that’s crammed with carbs, sweetened with sugar or dipped in a deep fryer is suddenly off-limits.

But dieting doesn’t have to require deprivation. Many delicious (and healthy) foods can still be part of your dining repertoire. Some members of the produce family are so light in calories and fat that you can eat them with (relative) abandon.

Vegetable love

The one category of foods that you can eat loads of without suffering the consequences of weight gain are nonstarchy vegetables, says Alexis Supan, an outpatient dietitian with the Cleveland Clinic Center for Integrative & Lifestyle Medicine. “Mostly any vegetable besides potato, corn and peas, you can eat endlessly,” she says.

ripe grapefruit slices, closeup

domnicky/Getty Images

10 healthy foods you can eat without gaining weight

Indulge in these to your heart’s content, along with a balanced diet.

  1. Celery
  2. Lettuce
  3. Watermelon
  4. Broccoli and cauliflower
  5. Grapefruit
  6. Mushrooms
  7. Berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries)
  8. Kiwi
  9. Carrots
  10. Spinach and kale

A cup of chopped broccoli or a grilled portobello mushroom contains just 30 calories and less than 1 gram of fat. You can chow down on two entire cups of lettuce and consume less than 16 calories. Because of its high water content, a whole tomato has a mere 22 calories. Cauliflower, kale, carrots and sprouts are similarly nutrient-dense and light in calories.

These produce mainstays bring a few other things to the table. “What makes them so incredible and so beneficial for weight maintenance and weight loss is they are high in macronutrients [such as carbohydrates] and micronutrients [vitamins and minerals]. And they’re rich in fiber,” says Beata Rydyger, a registered nutritionist based in Los Angeles. Fiber keeps your blood sugar levels stable, which helps you avoid sudden attacks of the munchies that might otherwise make you crave junk foods.

If vegetables aren’t your favorite foods, you might be thinking how unappealing this way of eating sounds. But there are ways to spice up your veggies to make them more palatable.

Roast them in olive oil spray, then add a blend of garlic and other herbs and spices, Supan suggests. If you love dip, which tends to be high in fat, use salsa instead to add even more vegetables into the mix. Or blend a ranch flavor packet into plain Greek yogurt. “Now you have a really high-protein, very healthy dip that you can use along with your vegetables,” she says.

What about fruit?

Fruits are a different story. With most of them, you don’t want to go overboard. “Grapes are a perfect example. A lot of people love to snack on grapes and could eat the whole bag in an afternoon without really thinking about it. But grapes are a high-sugar food,” Supan cautions. “Keeping most fruits to a cup-and-a-half for the day is a good goal to have.”

The exceptions are berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries), kiwi and grapefruit. These fruits are high in fiber and low on the glycemic index — which means they won’t boost your blood sugar too much. Just be careful before eating grapefruit to make sure it doesn’t interact with any medications (such as statins) you take. And don’t load it up with sugar to make it taste sweeter.

Filling up the healthy way

If you’re looking for all-you-can-eat foods, it may be worth revisiting your entire diet to make sure it’s satisfying. “When people eat the right meals throughout the day, that tends to fill them up much more, and they don’t have that constant hunger,” Supan says.

Many other foods pack a powerful nutritional punch for their calorie count. Examples are healthy proteins such as fish, chicken, tofu or beans, which should be part of each meal. You also want to add healthy fats from nuts and olive oil, vegetables and whole grains such as quinoa or brown rice to your meals. “These foods will create satiety, and you can go longer without feeling that urge to snack, so you won’t overindulge,” Rydyger says.

Snacking on other high-protein, high-fiber foods will help to hold you over until dinnertime. A can of tuna, an apple with a tablespoon of peanut or almond butter, a handful of nuts, a cup of plain air-popped popcorn, a half-cup of cottage cheese or a hard-boiled egg all make excellent options. Though they do contain calories, they’re high in protein, so you won’t be tempted to overeat at your next meal.

Drinking a glass of water or having a cup of bone broth (which contains protein in the form of collagen) might also help fill you up before a meal

Revamping your diet

When you’re used to eating a certain way, making large-scale changes to your diet can feel overwhelming. “That’s why I recommend for clients to start very slow. Make a few swaps each week, and see if that works. Maybe add one vegetable into a meal once a day,” Rydyger suggests. “Starting very small and building your way toward a lifestyle change is important.”

When it comes to dieting, the aim is not “How low can you go?” Your body needs calories for energy. Try to focus less on the numbers and more on the overall quality of your diet. The most important thing is to eat whole foods — ones that aren’t processed in a factory

Eating nothing but low-calorie foods could rob your body of the nutrients it needs, such as the calcium that keeps your bones strong. Plus it could leave you starving and have the opposite of the intended effect. 

“Those low-calorie diets lead to blood sugar instability and harsh crashes,” Rydyger says. “You’re bound to crash at some point and overcompensate with even more food than you had originally planned to eat.”

When making changes to your diet, you don’t need to go it alone. It’s preferable to get some help from your primary care doctor or a dietitian. Your doctor can check your vitamin and cholesterol levels to make sure you safely embark on your new way of eating. A dietitian can assess your needs and create a meal plan that’s not only tailored to your goals but also sustainable over the long term.

Can Foods Have ‘Negative’ Calories?

Some fruits and veggies, notably celery, grapefruit and cucumber, have been touted as “negative-calorie foods.” The premise is that these foods are so low in calories that the very act of chewing and digesting them burns more calories than the foods contain.

It might seem a logical assumption. After all, celery is mostly water, and a whole stalk contains less than 6 calories. For a while, drinking celery juice on an empty stomach was all the rage with dieters. But what limited research exists on the subject has pretty much debunked the negative-calorie claim. Researchers tested out the negative-calorie hypothesis by feeding celery to humans, as well as to bearded dragon lizards, and in most cases, it was a bust.

Bottom line: Celery certainly won’t make you gain weight, but it won’t take weight off, either.

Stephanie Watson is a freelance writer with more than two decades of experience covering consumer health. Her work has appeared in WebMD, Time, Harvard Health Publications, Healthline, HealthCentral and many other publications. She also served as executive editor of Harvard Women’s Health Watch.

Is the Impossible impossible?

Good Saturday morning! Axios’ Erica Pandey is your host — reach her at Brevity™ count: 971 words … 4 minutes. Edited by TuAnh Dam.
🍔 1 big thing: Fake meat fad combusts
Illustration of a burger patty on a flat top grill with grill marks in the shape of the Western hemisphere
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Customers and investors alike are sticking a fork in fake meat.Why it matters: Plant-based meat was sold as a healthier, sustainable high-protein substitute for real meat. But after years of hype, the tide is turning against the first generation of plant-based protein makers, Axios Pro Climate Deals reporter Megan Hernbroth writes.🍽️ The big picture: Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat captured headlines — and plenty of legitimate interest from consumers — with their plant-based “hamburgers.”Both companies’ plant-based burgers were a hit — the “meat” looked and tasted similar enough to beef that many diners couldn’t notice the difference.The meats were so popular that fast food giant Burger King noticed and added an Impossible Whopper to its menu.📉 But now, sales are collapsing.Impossible Foods plans to lay off roughly 20% of its workforce amid falling sales, per a Bloomberg report.Beyond Meat also cut roughly 20% of its workers, and lost several executives, amid its own stock slump.What’s happening: “Some say the slowdown in sales is a product of food inflation, as consumers trade pricier plant-based meat for less-expensive animal meat. But others wonder if the companies have simply reached the maximum number of consumers willing to try or repeatedly purchase faux burgers and sausages,” The New York Times’ Julie Creswell notes.🔮 What we’re watching: Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat use a process called high-moisture extrusion, which effectively pre-cooks the protein prior to sale.The technique works well with ground meat that doesn’t require a uniform texture or a single cut of meat.A new set of startups is working on developing new techniques to create more types of plant-based proteins to replace large cuts of meat and fish.Share this story.

Restricted eating and gene expression

The authors of a study found that 70 percent of mouse genes respond to time-restricted eating.

Satchidananda Panda, PhD – Salk Institute for Biological Studies

“By changing the timing of food, we were able to change the gene expression not just in the gut or in the liver, but also in thousands of genes in the brain,” the authors say.

Nearly 40 percent of genes in the adrenal gland, hypothalamus, and pancreas were affected by time-restricted eating. These organs are important for hormonal regulation. Hormones coordinate functions in different parts of the body and brain, and hormonal imbalance is implicated in many diseases from diabetes to stress disorders. The results offer guidance to how time-restricted eating may help manage these diseases.

Interestingly, not all sections of the digestive tract were affected equally. While genes involved in the upper two portions of the small intestine — the duodenum and jejunum — were activated by time-restricted eating, the ileum, at the lower end of the small intestine, was not. This finding could open a new line of research to study how jobs with shiftwork, which disrupts our 24-hour biological clock (called the circadian rhythm) impact digestive diseases and cancers. Previous research by Panda’s team showed that time-restricted eating improved the health of firefighters, who are typically shift workers.

The researchers also found that time-restricted eating aligned the circadian rhythms of multiple organs of the body.

“Circadian rhythms are everywhere in every cell,” says Panda. “We found that time-restricted eating synchronized the circadian rhythms to have two major waves: one during fasting, and another just after eating. We suspect this allows the body to coordinate different processes.”

Next, Panda’s team will take a closer look at the effects of time-restricted eating on specific conditions or systems implicated in the study, such as atherosclerosis, which is a hardening of the arteries that is often a precursor to heart disease and stroke, as well as chronic kidney disease.

Other authors include Shaunak Deota, Terry Lin, April Williams, Hiep Le, Hugo Calligaro, Ramesh Ramasamy, and Ling Huang of Salk; and Amandine Chaix of the University of Utah.

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants CA258221, DK115214, CA014195, and AG065993) and the Wu-Tsai Human Performance Alliance.

The Blue Zone Way to Healthy Diets

Micronutrient Needs of Older Adults

Source: Smolin and Grosvenor. Nutrition: Science and Applications, Third Addition

Changes in digestion, absorption, and metabolism affect micronutrient status and may contribute to the development of some of the disorders that are common in older adults.    

This may be a concern especially for the B vitamins, and vitamin D, iron, and zinc.

B vitamins 

The only B vitamins for which recommendations differ between older adults and younger adults are vitamins B6 and B12. The  RDA for B6 is greater to maintain levels while the RDA for vitamin B12 is not increased, but is a nutrient of concern because of both reduced absorption and low dietary intakes among some groups like vegans. Also as we age, many people develop a condition called atrophic gastritis from a lack of acid in the stomach necessary for the absorption of vitamin B12. Eating fortified foods or taking a supplement under the guidance of a physician are the best way to counter this situation. 

Folate is another B vitamin of concern. Low folate along with inadequate levels of B6 and B12 may result in an elevated homocysteine level which increases the risks of cardiovascular disease. The fortification in grain products began in 1998 has increased the intake of this vitamin, however, when folate is consumed in excess, it can mask signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency and go untreated. Again, consuming any vitamin is unnecessary in excess and should be supervised by your primary care doctor or a trained dietitian.

 Vitamin D 

Vitamin D is necessary for adequate absorption of calcium which is also a concern in elderly people.  Intake is often low and synthesis  in the skin is reduced due to limited exposure of sunlight and because the capacity to synthesize vitamin D in the skin decreases with age. 


The iron needs in women decline sharply at menopause when blood loss has ceased.The iron needs of men do not change., Nonetheless, iron-deficiency anemia is common in the elderly often due to chronic blood loss from disease and medications and poor absorption due to low stomach acid and antacid use. 


The RDA for zinc has not changed in older adults, but low energy intakes as well as absorption, stress,  trauma, muscle wasting  and OTC medications can all contribute  to poor zinc status. The consequences can  contribute to malnutrition by reducing food intake, Reduction in immune function and wound healing increases the risk of infection, which can also impair  nutritional status.

Food Guidelines: The Blue Zones Way

Fast Food and Dementia ?

 Is Eating Fast Food a Dementia Risk? 

The health risks of eating ultraprocessed foods —including sausages and burgers as well as pizza and ice cream — are well documented. They have been shown to raise the risk of obesity, diabetes, and cancer among other chronic ailments. ( 

In a new study, researchers followed more than 10,000 Brazilians with an average age of 51 for more than 10 years. They found that people who consumed more than 20% of their daily calories from ultra processed foods had a 28% faster cognitive decline compared with those whose intake was less than 20%.  Unfortunately, that 20% is not a high threshold: just 400 calories out of the 2000 calorie diet. And most Americans are well over that, getting on average a whopping 58% of their calories from ultraprocessed foods.

 “The sample size is substantial and the followup extensive,” says Dr. David Katz, a nutrition specialist who was not involved in the study. While short of proof, this is robust enough that we should conclude ultraprocessed foods are probably bad for our brains,” 

Source: The Week. December 23, 2022, Volume 22, Issue 110.


What is Epigenetics?

Epigenetics refers to the inheritable changes in your DNA that don’t change the actual DNA sequences. That means these changes are potentially reversible.

What is DNA Methylation?

Your DNA consists of four bases called cytosine, guanine, adenine, and thymine. A chemical unit called a methyl group (designated by CH3 or one carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms) can be added to cytosine.

When that happens, that area of the DNA is methylated. When you lose that methyl group, the area becomes demethylated.

DNA methylation often inhibits the expression of certain genes. For example the methylation process might stop a tumor-causing gene from “turning on”, preventing cancer.

Researchers are currently working to better understand the factors that affect DNA methylation. Based on some earlier findings, there is some evidence that diet plays a role. This opens up the potential to reduce genetic risk of developing certain conditions such as breast cancer or heart disease through simple lifestyle changes.

The patterns of DNA methylation change through out your life, from fetal development to end of life. Studies suggest thqt DNQ methylation slows down as we age. Genes that were once repressed by methylation start to become active and possibly result in a variety of diseases. Interestingly, another study found that participants”who consumed more alcohol were more likely to have decreased DNA methylation. In contrast, those who consume a lot of folate were more likely to have increased methylation.

“Can Diets Change Your DNA? The question is “are you really what you eat? The answer appears to be No. However, we have known for years that gene expression influences metabolism. A study published in Nature Microbiology in 2016 indicates that nutrition may play an important role in how some DNA sequences are expressed. The study that how genes behave is strongly influenced by the food we eat. Even so, we are still a long way from the kind of personalized medicine that will furnish nutritional therapies to treat a wide spectrum of conditions.” Stay tuned for the future. Source: You Are what Your Grandparents Ate. Judith Finlayson, 2019.

You may want to search my blog for a simple description of the association between nutrigenomics and diet with the Agouti yellow mouse.