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The Metabolic Syndrome

Discussion in 'The Pub' at netrider.net.au started by Mike9999, Jul 27, 2011.

  1. Hey all,

    I'm learning some pretty interesting stuff at Uni at the moment and I thought I'd share with you some interesting discussion surrounding what is known as the "Metabolic Syndrome" - what most people know as the obesity 'pandemic'.

    USA, UK and Australia (1st, 3rd and 6th in the world in terms of obesity in 2009) are generally regarded as well known "fat" nations. The past 25 years have seen a phenomenal increase in obesity rates in the US for instance. In 1985, only a few US states had between 10-14% of their population considered 'overweight'.

    1995: Almost half of the US states have 20% obesity.

    By 2005, this has skyrocketed to most states having between 25-30% of their population considered obese. Interestingly, majority of these 'overweight' states are part of Eastern USA.

    This is an extraordinary, unprecedented rate of social change. A similar change has occurred in Australia, albeit a few years behind.

    An interesting correlation exists between obesity rates and income equality. Nations with higher income inequality (USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Greece) are amongst the top 10 'obese' nations. Nations with very low income inequality (Norway, Japan, Denmark) are amongst the least obese nations. This has given rise to the so called 'economic risk factor' for metabolic syndrome; obesity is prevalent among the poor people in rich countries, and the rich people in developing countries.

    While many see the trend of Western cultures lying at the heart of obesity, what is perhaps less well known is that diabetes and coronary disease rates are rapidly rising in countries such as China, leading many to believe that the country is following the same pathway as Western cultures as its affluence increases.

    Most would simply attribute obesity to poor lifestyle choices, and in essence they are correct. However this is not the complete picture. A decrease in physical activity is important, however the decline in walking began around the 1900s when public transport was in common use. Food regulation has played a pivotal role in the rise of obesity.

    The 1970s saw an end to the post war boom in the US. High food prices and falling farming incomes threatened the presidency of Nixon at the time, and so a Free Trade Deal was brokered between the US and Malaysia, to export cheap, subsidised corn in exchange for Palm Oil. The ramifications of this deal were profound:

    • Animal feed prices dropped dramatically as they were fed mass-produced corn, leading to grossly overwheight livestock.
    • Corn syrup (HFCS55) was used to replace Cane Sugar as a sweeter (7x sweeter) and cheaper alternative. Products such as Coca-Cola became 20% cheaper to produce, allowing for lower prices and bigger portions. Corn Syrup also protected food from freezer burn and kept long-life products tastier, the result being that 80% of supermarket products now contain HFCS55 following the explosion of prepared foods, processed foods and frozen meals, as well as its widespread use in baking products.
    • Corn Syrup use leads to a massive rise int he consumption of the sugar Fructose, which bypasses the usual complex breaking down processes and goes straight to the liver, a process known as Metabolic Shunting. This is thought to lead to a rapid development of insulin resistence, which has correlated with the rapid rise in diabetes. Fruit juice now becomes a culprit. Containing the juice of 6 oranges but NO fibre to break down the concentrated fructose, many children now receive a glass of fruit juice as their 'fruit nutrition'.
    • The Palm Oil imported as part of the Trade Deal provided a cheaper alternative to beef and pig lard as a viable commercial fat. It was cheap, 'good in the mouth', and above all, stable, allowing products to last longer on the shelf without biodegrading. Unfortunately, the saturated fats in Palm Oil also avoid degradation in the body, leading to a rise in blood pressure, cholesterol and body fat.
    • Economically, food prices fell dramatically as consumers had cheap, tasty, sweet and fatty food that required little to no preparation. High profits from food lead to monopolies controlling all food production from farm to supermarket, leading to mass industrialised food production which was highly profitable, at the expense of health.
    • Ecological changes included the rise of new strains of food-related bacteria, as massed animals were living in feedlots knee deep in manure. High antibiotic use on these animals led to the evolution of deadly, antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria such as Salmonella and E.Coli.

    The simple solution would be to prepare your own food. However, the increasing rate of female employment was not matched by an increase in male unemployment, leaving less time to prepare meals at home.

    These changes to our food in industrialised economies in the last 40 years have been so rapid, and so profound, that they have been compared to the rise of farming and agriculture during the early start of human civilisation.

    This has led many to hypothesise that the metabolic syndrome is not merely a weakness of will, but a biological response to a social and economical environment.
  2. I've been overweight most of my life & now live a healthy 'normal' weight range due to sheer willpower & better lifestyle choices. I have to remember every day not to make excuses to eat. eg: eating when I'm hungry & not just because it's 12:30!

    Thats all fat people need...another excuse! Now they can say they have a 'syndrome' & therefore HAVE to eat Macca's & ice cream dipped in batter. One thing I can't stand is overweight people saying they are 'healthy'! Nothing healthy about a BMI of 41!

    Stop the insanity! Put the fork down!!!
  3. Interesting read, thanks for posting Mike9999.

    Even more reasons to avoid "fast food".
  4. You should watch the movie "Fat Head". It explains everything you've said in a very entertaining (and educational) way.
  5. Top post - thanks for sharing
  6. I've eaten healthily and played sports for most of my life, and I've always been fat. We weren't allowed junk food or soft drinks or anything like that, for the first probably 18 years of my life. Played sports at school and outside of school. Gym didn't make a difference either. My point is that while many fat people just eat a lot of shit, it's not always that simple.
  7. Thanks for the comment Gurbachen; what you're alluding to is a genetic factor in being overweight or obese. I'm sure we all know someone with a "fast metabolism" who can eat whatever they like and still be pencil thin; unfortunately it can also work the opposite way in others.

    When genetics start to become the limiting factor in a person's lifestyle, many people turn to pharmacological interventions (drugs) to break that genetic barrier. A common example is body builders who turn to steroids/growth hormone once they start to plateau and stop seeing results. There are also products (as well as surgical procedures) available to overcome genetic barriers to weight, but are considered last resort by many due to possible side effects. There is also the argument that with a rigorous enough regime, anyone is able to overcome their genetic barriers. It's a very contentious issue; if someone knew the answer they would be a billionaire overnight.

    However, 'genetic' obesity counts for a small portion of the overweight population. You can see from the figures I gave at the beginning that this rapid rise in overweight figures in the US occurred within 20 years - roughly a time period which you could call a 'generation'. This signals a mass change in environment and lifestyle, rather than a change in genetic factors, as the problem.

    Good to see some interest in this topic, thanks for the comments everyone. Big W, glad to see you are enjoying a healthier lifestyle :)
  8. Ok I'm going to chime in again, as this topic is very close to my heart at this stage in my life.
    18 months ago I was 110kg.
    I stumbled across the movie "Fat Head", and a documentary called "Sugar - The bitter Truth" at the same time. It was a real punch in the face... professionals challenging what is commonly considered "truth". As a result I put myself on a diet designed by me for one month to see what effect it would have.
    Over that month I lost 10kg. At no point was I hungry, or felt I was missing out on anything. Although it was a real eye opener and a change in lifestyle.

    As the results were so good, I started doing some research into metabolism. Learnt all about the Krebs cycle, glucose, insulin, glycogen. All in interest about how we can effect the krebs cycle (which is what keeps you alive and burns energy).

    At the end of the month I relaxed a little on the diet "rules" but continued to lose weight over the following 8 months. By the end of that I was 15kg lighter.

    In November last year I did a self test of living off fast food. No weight was gained.

    At no stage was exercise involved. I can't stress it enough, exercise does not cause weight lose. You can control your weight completely with diet. You can run a marathon in record time, then eat the equivalent in energy in 5 mins.

    What I considered to be "eating healthily" before I started all of this, is completely different to what I call eating "eating healthily" now.

    February this year I decided to go back to my previous "healthy" lifestyle to see what would happen, and I have gained 7kg. I am now going back to my new lifestyle which I plan to stay on from now on.

    Just noticed I didn't say what my diet was. The simplest way to explain it is "Atkins diet".
  9. Great to hear spenze, it looks like the low-carb diet works for you (if that is what you're referring to). Knowledge of the body's metabolic processes is a great tool in combating any nutrition problem. You are what you eat essentially so by limiting your carb intake you're forcing your body to burn off the fat for fuel instead.

    You're right in saying that diet is pivotal for weight loss; however, in terms of general cardiovascular health, as well as lung function, exercise is very important.
  10. With a high protein intake and hitting the weights hard I know a couple of blokes, who were like that, they went from marshmallow to tank in about 12 months.
  11. just like to also put my weight for what its worth behind the bullshit of the diet industry and gyms. Going to the gym wont make you lose weight, nor will any kind of supplements or pills or shakes or crazy techniques.

    I lost 45kg in 9 months (110 -> 65) by eating like a normal person, i used to eat constantly, now i eat three balanced meals a day, following the food group pyramid we were all taught in school.

    the diet industry wants to keep you fat, so they can keep getting your money, the real key is to eat as your mum would have wanted you to, no more random snacks, no more coke and redbull. water, meats, grains (no-carb diets are bullshit too), vege's and natural sugars is all you really need.
  12. +1 for the movie Fat Head.

    Over the last four years I've weighed between 68-105kg. I'm currently hovering around 103kg. I was at my fattest at 90kg. In that time I've learned a few things about losing weight and a lot about gaining weight and strength.

    In regards to training most people overlook the importance of strength. Being strong will help you greatly in the long run, I see patients every time I work that can't move themselves from one bed to another. A bit of long term strength training will ensure that you never struggle to get off the toilet when you're 60-80 years old.

    Untrue. Ketogenic diets are good for athletes, but not necessarily for fat people wanting to lose weight. Try to avoid blanket statements.

    Also you can lose weight just by training but it's inefficient and what you do in the kitchen is much much more important.
  13. Once you have muscle mass controlling body fat is not generally hard getting that muscle mass in the first place can be.
  14. Yes, it's easier to lose fat if you have more muscle. Unless you're a big guy (120kg plus) in which case you'll need some fat on you, or chemical assistance, to keep up that bodyweight.

    Gaining muscle is hard work, but it's not complicated. Too many people overcomplicate it or buy into bullshit.
  15. I'm not trying to play any sort of sympathy card, just pointing out that it's not always quite as simple as many believe (not saying anyone here is like that, just my two cents). As said before, often it is just poor lifestyle and dieting choices. I eat a lot of junk now, because I work night shift and miss most meals with others, and I never exercise anymore because my job has really messed up my back and legs/knees/feet. Not a whole lot has changed for me, put on about 15kgs in three or four years. I've always had sort of plateau weight levels where it only ever wavers by one or two regardless of eating a heap of shit or being healthy. Rambling, no real point lol
  16. Here's a handy tip for those with some muscle who are looking to drop some body fat. Doing some cardio before your weights will help the body use up its glycogen (sugar) stores. If you train fast and get your heart rate up, you'll then promote your body to start using fat stores while doing weights. Not too significant but it adds up.

    Yeah it's not simple at all. You can talk all you want about the right way to train/eat etc. but all that needs to smoothly integrate into your lifestyle, which is arguably the most difficult thing to do in alot of cases.
  17. Yeah I'm kinda scuppered on that point until I get a new job, hopefully someday soon
  18. Losing weight (or gaining) is as simple as calories in vs. calories out. If you consume more than you expend each day, you gain weight. There is nothing more to it. You can easily calculate your daily calorie needs by looking up a BMR calculator. Except for people with certain glandular problems (thyroid, rare), every fat person eats a calorie surplus, and every slim person eats a calorie deficit.

    There are a few ideas in this thread that are common misconceptions.

    Myths: 1. Exercise is necessary to lose weight - exercise has minimal effect, it's 99% diet. Running for half an hour requires surprisingly little energy. Diet alone will get you to any weight you desire. What exercise does do, is dictate your body composition when you reach that weight, the ratio of fat to muscle. Evidence is increasingly showing body weight isn't crucial anyway, it's healthier to be a weightlifter and 20% bodyfat, than to be sedentary and slim.

    2. Eating 'junk food' will make you fat - In terms of weight alone, it doesn't matter what you eat at all. All that matters for losing weight, is that you must consume less calories than you expend. You will become obese eating only steamed vegetables, if you consistently eat a calorie surplus of vegetables each day. The only difference 'junk food' makes, is in many cases it has a higher calorie density so it's easier to eat a calorie surplus. But if you know your BMR, and eat within it, you can eat maccas 3 meals a day and lose weight. How this fits your macro and micro nutrient requirements are a different issue.

  19. This is not true, the macro nutrient profile does have an effect on your body composition.


    If it was simply "calories in vs. calories out" two identical twins would gain/lose the same amount of weight with one of them eating a well balanced diet and one eating the same calories but with a greater proportion of sugar. If you're over 15% body fat and looking to lose weight you probably don't need to pay attention to macro nutrient ratios. In this case simply eating less should work. If you're under 15%, or if you're over 15% and looking to gain muscle you sure as hell do have to pay attention to your ratios.


    As for diet vs. exercise, I'd say diet is the most important but you should do both:


  20. Your reply is much more detailed and accurate than what I stated.

    That study says that reducing carbohydrates from 55% to 21% of your dietary calories, leads to a 5.4% (1848kcal-100kcal) reduction in effective yield. Personally I think it's more effective to focus on attacking calorie intake, you can make more than a 5% change in this regard.

    That's what works for me, but I can see that macros could make the difference for other people.