Brown Bag Monday: Obesity

The video above was shared by our friend (and reader) Adam in the comments of our previous post ‘Who’s Cooking Your Food?‘. I hadn’t had a chance to watch the first video until last weekend. Right off the bat the chart on the increase in obesity from 1970 to 2010 was pretty shocking. For me it validates that there is a modern day obesity epidemic.

Another section I connected with was how the video attacks the notion that all you have to track to lose weight is calories in and calories out. I know there is a lot more to nutrition than just calories, so this message has always rung hollow to me. How can a calorie of pure sucrose equal the nutrients behind a calorie of leafy vegetables? Obviously it can’t, and on top of that only .26 grams of sugar gets you 1 calorie, whereas it takes 5.6 grams of green leaf lettuce to get 1 calorie. I’m pretty sure our bodies are going to get a little more bang for the buck out of the 5.6 grams of green leaf lettuce than the 1 gram of sugar. Now multiply the above results by the number of calories you need a day and you quickly get a sense of how easily empty calories can rob us of so much health.

The video also covers the diseases caused by metabolic syndrome: type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and lipid problems. As if these classic diseases weren’t enough, they are also now finding that non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome, cancer, and dementia can also be caused by metabolic syndrome.

To further dampen the mood, metabolic syndrome isn’t just for the “obese”. 20% of those that are obese show no metabolic syndrome and will live normal lives. Meanwhile 40% of normal weight patients have metabolic syndrome and will be susceptible to the same litany of diseases. In the United States today a full 60% of all American’s have signs of metabolic syndrome.

The video wraps up by comparing rising health care costs to the rise of the 8 diseases caused by metabolic syndrome, then looking at these impacts on developing nations as well. What other factors do you think are contributing to the rise of obesity and the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in the obese and the non-obese?

In other news I’ve been thinking some about future brown bag Monday topics. Leave a comment and let me know which topic you be interested in discussing first and I’ll do my best to write about it next week.

  • The impact of fertilizer and pesticide use in conventional farming on our fresh water resources
  • A look into the food trade of the United States with the rest of the world
  • Genetically modified organisms and their impact on our health (covered a bit last Friday)
  • Seed savers exchange and the importance of preserving open-pollinated seeds
  • The decline in healthy top soil in the United States
  • Specify your own topic

Lolo’s Dad


14 thoughts on “Brown Bag Monday: Obesity

  1. Ever since I heard Dr. Lustig on NPR and then watched those YouTube episodes, I virtually cut added sugar out of my diet, which was surprisingly easy (except for when Brooklyn makes a cake for her cake class, can’t say no to that!). On the other hand, what is starting to seem like an insurmountable task is getting junk food food out of the kids’ diet. We can eliminate all we want at home, but as soon as they go to school, a birthday party,grandma & grandpas, or a friend’s house, it’s sugar time. The most disappointing is the first one, school. I can’t believe how much sugar they dish out for incentives to do the work and behave; it’s completely counter-productive when you look at the true nature of the “drug”. Then every week, there’s some kid’s birthday celebration or holiday party where they get a plate full of cake, cookies, ice-cream, etc. Now I know that if we can keep things healthy at home, these occasional sugar overdoses aren’t the end of the world, but it totally sabotages any progress we make in changing their taste buds. Vegetables and whole grains will never start tasting good to them as long as they keep getting those hits of sugar. I really think it may be impossible to give our kids the perfect diet because of the addictive qualities of sugar and dependence on it in our culture of kids; we have to settle for grinding into them the importance of healthy eating so that when they’re adults, they can maybe have the will power to “Just Say No”. Either that or they’ll totally go on a binge because they’re sick of mom and dad never letting them have junk food.

    • Lolo’s lunch–all those topics look great! I look forward to the one on the top soil. I hear Adam K. above! We’ve cut out all processed foods, sugar, and grain in our family. We still have treats, but treats we make without these things. Luckily, we actually eliminated some health issues the kids can actually feel and see, so they relate to it being a true health issue rather than something far off in the future or a control issue. Nearly all of metabolic syndrome–what we eat. Processed foods are killing us.

      • I worry about this with Lolo as well – “vegetables and whole grains will never start tasting good to them as long as they keep getting those hits of sugar”. I agree that teaching them the impacts diet can have on their health should help them avoid eating too much trash even when they aren’t under our control. Having them actually see the elimination of a health problem must have been huge! I’m kind of feeling the soil topic myself too!

  2. I vote for the “saving seeds” topic, something I’ve been wanting to learn about. Another topic I’ll submit for consideration is vegetable/fruit juicing. We watched a documentary called “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead”, that really opened our eyes to the beauty of drinking your raw fruits and veggies, and we’ve seen some cool stuff on treating chronic illnesses and cancer with nutrient-rich diets centered around fresh organic juice. I’m excited about getting into it because it opens up the door for a lot more home gardening and takes the pressure off of feeling like you have to quit your job so you can dedicate enough time to food preservation.

    • I’ve read some of the material in the Seed Savers Catalog about the methods you have to use to ensure open-pollinated plants don’t cross pollinate with different varietals and taint the next generation. Isolation gardens, planting like species far enough apart that wind can’t carry the seed, planting species that seed at different times of the year next to each other so only unique varieties are flowering at any one time, and so on. Seed Savers keeps all their varietals going strong on Heritage Farm in Decorah Iowa and through partnerships with nearby farmers to grow certain heirloom plants on their own lots just to preserve the seed. Needless to say I’m interested in the topic too and will definitely look to cover it in the future.

      Juicing is an interesting topic I hadn’t thought of. I like the idea of using it as a means to get through the bounty of a season.

  3. Thank you for putting this out there Lolo’s Dad. Cutting out sugar and starches was the answer for me. For two years, I’ve given up the SAD for low carb high fat. Losing the label of “morbidly obese” while consuming at the minimum 2000 calories has led me to believe that the calories truly are not equal, just as Dr. Lustig pointed out. I hope that one day this information (along with Gary Taubes, Dr. William Davis, Dr. Jonny Bowden, Dr. Stephen Sinatra, etc) will become the norm rather than the fringe.

    I would enjoy reading about each topic you listed. In addition how about school cafeteria lunches and childhood obesity? There is one thing that most children have in common and that is school lunch.

  4. Great video! Thanks for posting it. Have you watched Dr. Lustig’s “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” lecture? It’s long (almost 1.5 hours), but really informative. There’s also a great NYT’s article by Gary Taubes called “Is Sugar Toxic?” I try to limit my sugar intake as much as possible and only consume unrefined sugars when I do eat it (honey, maple syrup, etc.). Regularl sugar fasts are also really helpful. I try to give all added sugars up for a few days to a week each month and I feel so much better!

    As for posts, I’d love to hear your take on soil erosion. There is a book and a documentary both called “Dirt” that are on my to watch/to read lists.

    • That’s two mentions for Gary Taubes. I’ll look up his article. Thanks for the lecuture and documentary suggestions as well. I started watching “Dirt” tonight but now taking a break. It’s free with my Amazon Prime membership so I’ll try and finish it this weekend.

      • I did the same thing with “Dirt.” I’m working my way through it, but I’m not crazy about the narration which makes focusing difficult. Thank goodness for Prime! If I had to return it to the library, I’m sure I would never finish it.

  5. I think the way foods are sold in a country makes a difference. In Ireland, petrol stations are also food shops, they have massive displays of chocolate bars and crisps by the counter, and you can also buy sandwiches/rolls with lots of mayonnaise etc (and they often have offer like 1 roll, 1 bag of crisps and 1 coke for 5 euro). I’m living in France now, and this culture doesn’t exist. I see many more obese people when I go home to Ireland, than when I am here in France.

    • I bet our American gas stations can out junk your Ireland petrol food displays any time anywhere! I wonder why the gas stations in France don’t sell this type of product. It makes me wonder if the business owners try it and the customers just aren’t into it because of the food culture being so different, or if they themselves have too much pride to put out what they have learned from their culture is food garbage? It seems to me if they did put out sweets or fried snacks, even a minimal display, that kids would spend a euro here or there without mom knowing and junk could win in a few generations. Hopefully that never occurs.

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