Everything you read these days is either about fat science or Donald Trump. They are endlessly amazing subjects. The March 7th issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association has 6 about fat science. There may have been some articles about that other subject. I don’t know. I’m avoiding it.
The first of the 6 is a report card on a Centers for Disease Control campaign called “winnable battles” that was started in 2010 that picked 6 things that could be done that would quickly lead to big health improvements in our country. None of the things was obesity but obesity was part of “nutrition, physical activity, obesity and food safety” lumped together. I don’t know if that diffuse focus was because obesity is too easy to fix by itself or because it is hopeless and they wanted to fix around the edges of it. By 2015 there was only limited progress on this area with none of the sub-battles achieving preset targets. Obesity increased. (1)
The second 2 articles are about how much eating 10 different things impacts death from cardiometabolic disease. The 10 things are: fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, whole grains, unprocessed red meats, processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, polyunsaturated fats, seafood omega-3 fats, and sodium. They determined that not eating the right ones of those ten and eating the wrong ones is associated with about half of deaths from heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. The biggest sole dietary factor is salt representing about 10% of the death toll. All of the evidence for this math comes from epidemiological studies and it is impossible to perfectly correct for all possible bias especially socioeconomics and the effect of exercise. (2,3)
The next study report shows that for 1.4 million Swedish women, overweight and obesity were significantly associated with the rate of cerebral palsy in their full term single births. This association was partly because of more asphyxia-related complications in their babies. (4)
The next in our cavalcade of articles is about variations in the enzyme called lipoprotien lipase (LPL) which is in charge of handling fats that are absorbed when you eat. People who are born with 2 bad LPL genes and without functioning LPL have sky high triglycerides in their blood and they get recurrent pancreatitis but are not more prone to coronary heart disease. People who have only one bad gene for LPL have slightly higher triglycerides and are almost twice as likely to have early heart attacks for some as yet unknown reason. (5)
Finally a report examining data from NHANES surveys from 1988 through 2014 showed that though overweight and obesity increased from 53% to 66%, the percentage of those overweight or obese people saying that they were trying to lose weight decreased from 56% to 49%. (6) Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
John DiTraglia M.D. is a Pediatrician in Portsmouth. He can be reached by e-mail- [email protected] or phone-354-6605.