Obesity or Overweight: According to a study by National Cancer Institute researchers, patients with prostate cancer have a greater chance of dying from the disease if they are overweight or obese.

Lead study author and research fellow with the Cancer Epidemiology division of the NCI, Margaret E. Wright, pointed out that the study did not find a link between excess weight and actually contracting prostate cancer.

The NCI researchers began their study in 1995, analyzing health questionnaires filled out by nearly 288,000 men who were between the ages of 50 and 71 at the time. The questionnaire was used to establish the frequency with which participants were tested for prostate cancer though the prostate-specific antigen test and digital rectal exams from 1992 to 1994, and to record weight, height, and body mass index (BMI); a weight classification ratio calculated from both height and weight. At the beginning of the study, 29 percent of the men were considered normal weight, 50 percent were considered overweight, and 21 percent were classified as obese.

All participants were also part of a larger diet and health study conducted by the AARP. None of the men who fell into the smaller BMI sample had ever been diagnosed with any cancer except non-melanoma skin cancer.

Between 1995 and the end of 2000, almost 10,000 participants had contracted prostate cancer, and 173 men had succumbed to the disease, the study authors said. The risk of death, they noted, appeared to be linked to BMI. Overweight men had a 25 percent greater risk of death from prostate cancer than men at normal weight, and mildly obese men — defined as a BMI between 30 and 34.9 — were at a 46 percent higher risk. Men who had a BMI of 35 or more were considered severely obese and were at double the normal risk of fatality from prostate cancer.

The study also found that the risk of death from prostate cancer increased in relation to the amount of weight a male gained after turning 18.

“This is a large study, and this finding really solidifies prior indications suggesting this association is real,” Wright said. “So while we still need to do more research to find out exactly how this works, I’m not surprised with the connection.”

“This adds to observations in a number of different studies that indicate that patients who are in better condition — thinner, more active, or with a lower BMI — may have a less aggressive form of cancer and do better than patients who have a sedentary lifestyle,” said Dr. Philip Arlen, director of the Clinical Research Group in the Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology with the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute. “There are a lot of factors that may come into play, and BMI may not be predictive in terms of developing prostate cancer, but it does seem that among patients already diagnosed, those who are physically active and not obese may face a better outcome,” said Arlen, who was not involved in the study.

One in six American men contract prostate cancer, according to the Prostate Cancer foundation, and the disease is the most common form of cancer outside of skin cancers. Age is a common risk factor, and men older than 65 account for more than 65 percent of all prostate cancer cases. Other risk factors include diet and exercise levels, and genetics, although the NCI study found that age, race, frequency of preventative screening, and family history of prostate cancer seemed to have no affect on the link between weight and prostate cancer mortality.

Wright and colleagues noted in their study — published in the Feb. 15 issue of Cancer — that almost 66 percent of Americans were fell into the obese or overweight categories as of 2000. In previous studies, excess weight and obesity have been linked to Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic illness and many cancers besides prostate cancer.

“We have to continue to address the growing prevalence of obesity in this country and others, because obesity is linked to many, many diseases,” Wright said. “So we would, of course, definitely recommend that people maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise.”

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Does Being Overweight Affect One’s Job Hunting?

Overweight or Obesity: Does being overweight affect job hunting? The answer to the headline question appears to be an unequivocal Yes, obesity does affect job hunting. When it comes to career advancement or job hunting, it often used to be ‘not what you know, but who you know’.

According to recent research undertaken by the State University of Detroit and the Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology in San Francisco they suggest a current generational change to weight base bias, suggesting it’s now ‘how you look’, not how good you are!

Findings presented to the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology in San Francisco indicate a major set of stereotypes associated with being overweight that affects other people’s opinions and judgments in relation to the obese person’s job performance.
An analysis of the considerable research data taken from the last 30 years show that people who are overweight are viewed more negatively in the workplace.

Basic stereotypes associated with being overweight include laziness, sloppiness, untidiness, lack of self-discipline and control. Overweight people are also labeled as being unhealthy, often smelly and lacking in motivation, which can affect any employer’s decisions.

Being overweight also limits possible job choices. There are many trades and professions inappropriate to obesity. Good examples being the bias against weight in face to face interaction employment such as sales positions or jobs needing constant mobility.

The fact is that first world peoples, particularly Americans are just getting heavier, causing increasing stigmas associated with body weight. This issue is set to be more of an issue according to Dr Boris Baites, a psychology professor at Wayne State who agrees that employees are victims of stereotypes.

Research showed that weight based bias was stronger than race or gender. Dr Baites admitted surprise on the strongly negative test results and speculated that this was because obesity is generally considered to be within a person’s self control.

These results are not really surprising. While there is occasionally a very real genuine physical medical problem, looking at the cause often shows a strong connection with the person’s emotions.
Loneliness, relationship breakdowns, grief and constant rejection surely must create very low self-esteem, unfortunately creating over eating as a solace.

It is understandable that their problems are unlikely to inspire prospective employers.

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Overweight or Obesity: A study conducted in Sweden spanning almost four decades has suggested that overweight persons, and not just those who were obese, may also be subjected to increased risk of premature death. It also suggested that the adverse effects of excess weight on mortality may be as significant as smoking cigarettes.

Details and Findings of Study

Published in the British Medical Journal, the study had been conducted using data from Sweden’s military service conscription register, census as well as cause of death register. In all, after excluding certain persons due to incomplete data, 45,920 men were tracked for a period of 38 years; the average age of the men at the start of the study was 18.7 years. During the period, 2,897 of the men passed on.
Body Mass Index and Mortality

Having accounted for age, socioeconomic status, muscle strength and smoking, the researchers found that men who were overweight (body mass index, or BMI, from 25.0 to 29.9) during adolescence at the point they joined the Swedish military in 1969 and 1970 had a 33% higher rate of mortality during the study period, as compared with their counterparts in the normal weight range (BMI from 18.5 to 24.9). Obese men (BMI of 30 or more) had even higher risk – a whopping 114% elevated likelihood of death during the period. Similar relative estimates were obtained when smokers and non-smokers were analyzed separately. Figures also did not differ by much when smoking was not adjusted for.

Underweight men (BMI less than 18.5) did okay, although those who were extremely underweight (BMI less than 17) had 33% increased mortality, too, similar to overweight men.

Smoking and Mortality

The study subjects had declared their smoking habits when they attended mandatory military conscription tests back in 1969 and 1970. Using this information, and after adjusting for age, socioeconomic status, muscular strength and BMI, the study team also found that, compared with their non-smoking counterparts, light smokers (1 to 10 sticks of cigarettes per day) experienced 54% increased rate of mortality during the period. Not surprisingly, heavy smokers (more than 10 sticks of cigarettes each day) fared worse, suffering heightened mortality rate of 111%. Again, the figures were similar even when BMI was not adjusted for. Although the magnitude of risk increase differed across BMI categories, they featured in the same direction.

Combined Effects of Smoking and Weight

Using normal-weight non-smokers as the reference group, the relative risks of mortality of almost all the other groups were large (at least 31% higher) and highly significant. Only two groups were spared – moderately underweight non-smokers and extremely underweight non-smokers. Overweight heavy smokers experienced heightened risk of 155%, while obese heavy smokers suffered the worst, having a risk close to 5 times (4.74) that of normal weight non-smokers.

Significance of Findings – Discussion

These findings are significant in two main ways. Firstly, they suggest that persons who are overweight but not obese could also be subject to increased risk of dying early; other recent studies had been divided on whether overweight people may experience such elevated risk as compared to their healthy-weight counterparts.

According to Martin Neovius, a postdoctoral fellow at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute and the leader of the study, his team’s findings confirm the discoveries of the Nurse’s Health Study conducted at Harvard. With one study having looked at women and one having covered men, the two studies complement each other. “We find exactly the same in men as they did in women,” he said.

The team’s findings also suggest that the impact on mortality of excess weight could be as significant as smoking, a big assertion considering that smoking is widely believed to be the single most important factor for many diseases and premature death. “What we show is that for the overweight, there is a significantly increased risk of premature death, similar to smoking one to ten cigarettes a day,” said Neovius.

It is possible, however, that the study exaggerates the impact of being overweight. A major limitation of the analysis is that the study subjects’ weight was only known at the start of the study period, or the point at which they joined the military. Generally speaking, people put on weight as they grow older, and some of those who were overweight during adolescence may have “graduated” to obesity in adulthood. If that were the case, their increased risk of premature death would be attributable to obesity, and not to merely being overweight during their younger years. This point was raised by David F Williamson, a visiting professor at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University.


Obesity has become an epidemic worldwide, with rates of the condition soaring in recent decades, in particular among children. Together with smoking, these two are the major behavioral risk factors for chronic degenerative diseases and premature death in developed nations today. Neovius feels that policy makers should take note of the findings of his team’s study and work towards raising awareness of the dangers of being too heavy, as well as being severely underweight.

“Anti-smoking campaigns have been very successful. But we don’t have any good preventative programmes for overweight and obesity,” he said, in reference to his native Sweden, although things are not very different in other countries.

“We know that health behaviors are established early on in life,” he also said. This tells us that adolescents must be targeted in educational efforts. Adults, too, should note that smoking and excess weight are dangerous factors, and even more deadly when put together.

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Obesity: Did your daily weigh-in cause your blood pressure to spike? If it did, you are not alone. More than 50 percent of Americans are overweight or obese and the numbers just keep on rising. These shocking statistics have doctors from the World Health Organization, Center for Disease Control, and American Heart Institute wondering how to stop the epidemic. That sudden shock of seeing the numbers on the scale inch up is not what`s giving rise to your blood pressure. It is the ongoing, day-to-day strain that obesity puts on the entire cardiovascular system that causes blood pressure to reach dangerous heights.
Being extremely overweight and having high blood pressure is so closely related that it has even been given its own name: obesity hypertension. Of all the cases of hypertension in the U.S., 75% can be directly attributed to obesity. Deaths directly from hypertension or that had high blood pressure as a primary contributor totaled 310,707 deaths in the U.S. in 2002. It`s a chain reaction (obesity=hypertension=heart disease=death) that all begins with how fat a person is.

Obesity is also a condition that is an equal opportunity disease. It doesn`t matter if you are male, female, old or young, and the origins of your ancestry do not matter. If you are overweight, you increase your chances for hypertension and if you lose weight, your risk goes down. But stay overweight and your risk of developing hypertension is 5 to 6 times greater than someone who is at his or her ideal weight.

How Heavy is Obese?

The first question to ask in removing the obesity risk factor for hypertension is “Am I overweight?” Obesity is determined by Body Mass Index (BMI), which takes into account the relationship between height and weight. A BMI above 30.0 is considered obese. A score between 25.0 and 29.9 is considered “overweight.” Ideally, BMI should be between 18.5 and 24.9.

To measure your own BMI you take your current weight and divide it by the number you get when you multiply your height in inches by your height in inches again. Then multiply that number by 703 for your BMI. For example, if you are 5`6″ and weight 165 pounds, you would multiply 66″ times 66″ for a total of 4356. Then divide 165 by 4356 for a total of 0.0378. Next multiply that by 703 for a BMI equal to 26.6, which is considered overweight.

How Does Being Overweight Impact Blood Pressure?
When you are obese, your body needs more blood in order to supply oxygen to and nourish the extra tissue. When you put more blood into the same passageway of veins and arteries, there will be extra pressure on those blood vessels.

Weight gain is also usually in the form of fat. According to Mayo Clinic research, fat cells even produce more chemicals, which in turn add to the strain on the heart and pressure on the blood vessels. In addition, there is an increase in insulin from weight gain. This makes the body retain sodium and water, which also increases heart rate and decreases the ability of the blood vessels to move blood throughout the body, thereby increasing blood pressure.

It`s not just how much you are overweight, but also where you carry your extra weight that can have a great impact on blood pressure. Risk factors are increased when added weight is in the abdominal area. This is because people with a so-called spare tire also have increases in blood sugar, which causes the fat to be deposited there, and then starts the sodium and water retention cycle.

Reducing Weight to Lower Blood Pressure

Because there is a direct correlation between obesity and hypertension, it makes perfect sense that by losing weight you can lower blood pressure. The proof is in the numbers. Blood pressure is measured in mm/hg. A reading of blood pressure both as the heart beats and as it relaxes, creates the dual number of X over Y giving you your final blood pressure reading. For every 2.2 pounds of weight lost, blood pressure falls 1 mm/hg. Realistically, an overweight person like in our example above could lose just 10 percent of his/her body weight – in this case 16.5 pounds – and lower his/her blood pressure by 7 or 8 points.

Small Steps for Big Results

If you can conquer obesity, then you can take dramatic steps in lowering blood pressure. One of the best ways to combat weight is with walking. Walking increases metabolism and is more effective in the long run than more strenuous cardiovascular workouts. Those who are overweight should talk to their doctor before starting an exercise program of any kind, but all physicians will agree that walking is one of the safest, most effective forms of exercise. Good shoes that provide support to the arches will protect feet and knees from stress injuries. Also, walking on softer surfaces such as a grassy field or dirt road will give a better workout because more balance and coordination is needed.

Some other ways to lose weight safely and lower blood pressure include:

1. Reduce sodium intake

2. Don`t eat within 3 hours of going to bed at night

3. Drink at least 8 glasses of water each day

4. Replace saturated animal fats with non-saturated, healthy fats from vegetable sources

5. Limit consumption of alcoholic beverages that are packed with calories

There are some risk factors associated with hypertension that you cannot control, such as genetics, race, and age. How much you weigh and what you do to make sure you are at a good weight is within your control. Take action to keep obesity in check and reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure.

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Obesity or Overweight: A study published in the online journal Obesity, March 19, found that 75 percent of young recruits for fire and ambulance service in Massachusetts were overweight or obese. The study was conducted by researchers from Boston University School of Medicine, Boston Medical Center, Harvard University and the Cambridge Health Alliance. In emergencies, obese or overweight responders are at risk of injury or cardiac failure. The findings of the study have serious implications for public safety, the long term health of the applicants, and the economic viability of emergency services.
Data were drawn from two Massachusetts clinics for a study of firefighter and ambulance recruits between October 2004 and June 2007 using pre-placement medical data. Candidates older than age 35 were excluded from the study. Of 370 young recruits who had passed minimum criteria, only 22 percent were of normal weight, 43.8 percent were overweight, and 33 percent were obese. Today’s young recruits, the study concluded, are heavier than older, veteran firefighters from the 1980s and 1990s.
Firefighting recruits with normal weight were able to achieve minimal exercise standards on a treadmill. This test, which measures aerobic capacity and endurance, is recommended by the National Fire Protection Association. Ninety-three percent of overweight recruits passed this test. But almost half of obese recruits failed.

Lead researcher Antonios Tsismenakis, a medical student at Boston University School of Medicine, noted that any health condition suddenly incapacitating an emergency responder also potentially compromises the safety of his or her co-workers and the community.
BMI, or body mass index, a method of measuring body fat based on height and weight, was used to define normal weight, overweight and obesity. The research team found a strong correlation between excess BMI and an increased cardiovascular risk profile, according to Dr. Stefanos Kales, director of Occupational and Environmental Medicine Residency, Harvard School of Public Health. Excess weight as measured by BMI can lead to heart disease or back and neck injuries, both prevalent among emergency responders.

Emergency responders such as firefighters, ambulance personnel, and police are expected to be able to perform without compromising the safety of themselves, their colleagues or the public. In past these professions recruited persons of above average fitness from a pool of healthy young adults. However, as obesity has become widespread in the USA, recruiters have had difficulty finding suitable applicants.

Widespread obesity among a youthful population also has significant long term implications since exercise levels generally decline as people age. Dr. Kales noted that young recruits were “probably at or near peak fitness.” Since people tend to exercise less as they get older, at age 45 the cardiovascular profiles of the recruits, already unfavorable, could become much worse. Firefighters, ambulance personnel and police confront situations that are highly stressful psychologically and physically. Consequently, they are at high risk for cardiovascular events. Incapacitation during an emergency puts their colleagues and them, and members of the public, in danger.
Besides the dangers to public safety, the economic considerations are also significant. State and federal legislation provides benefits to emergency responders who die or are disabled on the job. A greater number of emergency personnel experiencing a disabling condition or fatality could negatively affect state or federal coffers.

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A diet rich in berries can help mitigate the heart-damaging effects of being overweight, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Turku, Finland, and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in August.

The researchers assigned 80 overweight women to consume four separate berry products on four separate occasions in a random order. The products were dried sea buckthorn berries, sea buckthorn oil, frozen bilberries and sea buckthorn phenolic ethanol extract mixed with maltodextrin.

All four berry products led to improvements in the metabolic profiles of all participants, whether they had a high or a low cardiometabolic risk at the beginning of the study. Among participants with high cardiovascular risk, dried sea buckthorn berries improved levels of triglycerides and VLDL cholesterol and its subclasses; sea buckthorn oil improved levels of intermediate-density lipoprotein (IDL) and LDL cholesterol and their subfractions; and frozen bilberries produced improvements in blood lipid and lipoprotein levels. The sea buckthorn phenolic ethanol extract mixed with maltodextrin led to improvements in triglyceride and VLDL levels in all participants, regardless of cardiovascular risk.

“Berry intake has overall metabolic effects, which depend on the cardiometabolic risk profile at baseline,” the researchers concluded.

Berry consumption also protects the young

Another recent study, conducted by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of East Anglia, England, and published in the journal Circulation, found that berry consumption during youth can help protect the heart as it ages.

The researchers analyzed data from 93,600 women between the ages of 25 and 42 who had been followed for 18 years as part of the Nurses’ Health Study II. Participants had filled out a detailed diet survey every four years.

The researchers found that women who ate three or more servings of blueberries and strawberries every week had a 32 percent lower risk of heart attacks than women who only ate berries once a month or less. Although the women who ate more berries also had healthier diets than the women who ate less berries, the heart-protecting benefits of the berry diet remained strong even after the researchers controlled for this and other potential confounding factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, smoking, physical activity and family health history.

The study focused on blueberries and strawberries, not because those particular berries are healthiest, but because they are the most commonly eaten berries in the United States. All bright-colored berries are high in anthocyanins and other antioxidants that help protect the heart and other organs from cell damage, inflammation and the effects of aging.

“These foods can be readily incorporated into diets, and simple dietary changes could have an impact in reducing risk of heart disease in younger women,” researcher Aedin Cassidy said. “This supports growing lab data showing that these compounds can help keep arteries healthy and flexible.”

“The take-home lesson is that even if you are eating these early in life, you’re getting benefits that last for life,” said women and heart disease specialist Suzanne Steinbaum of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who was not involved in the study.

“When we’re making choices in our 20s, we may think that a burger and fries is great, but the message is that there are alternatives that make a difference for the rest of your life. It is a powerful message that we can prevent cardiovascular disease by what we eat.”

Another study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2004, concluded that eating more berries is the single most cost-effective way to increase the amount of antioxidants in your diet.

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Obesity: A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition indicates that overweight and obese individuals might benefit from testing their vitamin D levels. Low levels of this vitamin may indicate health issues and might be linked to heart disease, diabetes, and even some kinds of cancer. Maintaining optimum vitamin D levels can be crucial for decreasing health risks.

Researchers in Oslo, Norway measured vitamin D blood levels in nearly 1,800 people who were being treated for problems related to weight. Individuals who weighed the most had the lowest levels of vitamin D in their blood. The researchers also determined that levels of vitamin D decrease in winter months for everyone but more dramatically for heavier individuals.

There are many possible reasons for this lack of vitamin D in the overweight and the obese. Many such individuals are on restricted diets, thereby reducing or even eliminating many of the foods that naturally contain vitamin D. Sunlight is another source of vitamin D, which could explain the lower vitamin D levels in test subjects during winter months. But less exposure to the sun does not explain why those with weight problems lose vitamin D at other times of the year.

The question remains: do people gain weight because vitamin D levels are too low, or does being overweight cause a person’s vitamin D levels to decrease? Other studies are being conducted to determine exactly how and why overweight and obese individuals are losing so much vitamin D.

In the meantime, it is known that vitamin D is important in lowering the risk of heart disease, hypertension, and strokes. This vitamin is also necessary to strengthen bones and fight infections, including many forms of cancer, multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases. Some experts speculate that it would even be beneficial in assisting weight loss goals. Many physicians are coming around to the idea that most people need far more vitamin D than they are getting.

However, individuals who are interested in increasing their vitamin D consumption for health or weight reasons should consult their physicians before taking supplements. It is important to know the correct dosage of this valuable vitamin, especially if weight is a factor in illnesses or conditions.

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Overweight and obesity: It doesn’t take much more than a casual glance around you to know that overweight and obesity rates have risen during the past half century, specifically skyrocketing over the past five to ten years. An overabundance of highly processed, fructose-infused convenience foods and meals eaten at fast food restaurants have been significant contributors to the rapidly growing problem apparent in many western cultures. To put it simply, people today eat differently than their parents and grandparents, and our fast paced lifestyle and lack of physical activity are accumulating pounds around the waists of many children and adults.
Most people do not realize that the protruding bellies so commonly seen today are a major factor in the development of certain lines of cancer. Investigative researchers from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston have published the result of a study in the journal Cancer Research that shows how fat progenitor cells may contribute to cancer growth by fortifying the vessels that provide needed blood to tumors.

The authors describe how fat progenitor cells can turn into various types of cells, and are known to fortify the vessels that provide essential blood to tumors. Prior population studies have shown that there is a correlation between obesity and cancer rates, and demonstrate that for many cancers, overweight and obesity is linked with poorer prognosis and faster progression of the disease.

Special adipose stromal cells are released through the blood to promote cancerous tumor growth

Dr. Mikhail Kolonin, lead study author noted “Our earlier studies led us to hypothesize that fat tissue called white adipose tissue, which is the fat tissue that expands in individuals who are obese, is itself directly involved and that it is not just diet and lifestyle that are important.” Researchers examined two groups of mice, one obese and the other lean, and observed that when both were fed the same diet, the obese mice developed tumors at a higher and more rapid rate as compared to their lean counterparts.

The scientists also found that the obese mice had more adipose stromal cells (ASC’s) that enter the circulation. When the stromal cells entered forming tumors, many of them turned into fat cells while others became part of the blood vessel network feeding the tumor growth. They concluded that adipose stromal cells contributed to angiogenesis, an essential component in tumor development that feeds nutrients and oxygen to fuel cancerous growth.

Dr. Kolonin concluded “Our results suggest that ASC’s recruited from endogenous adipose tissue can be recruited by tumors to potentiate the supportive properties of the tumor microenvironment.” In the past, researchers have associated overweight and obesity with increased risk for prostate, breast, ovarian, colorectal and renal cancers. This important study now explains the specific mechanism to explain how excess body fat is an independent risk factor in cancer development and progression.

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It is easy to become deluded about the state of your health when you look around and nearly everyone is in the same situation. People tend to benchmark themselves against the “normal”, and with obesity increasing in many parts of the world, a person who is a little overweight can easily convince himself he is perfectly healthy.

This is what many people are telling themselves, and new research suggests that Britons are the most delusional. A poll of 14,000 people in seven European countries found that 21 percent of overweight Britons believe they are a healthy weight, compared to 16 percent in France and 10 percent in Italy. It was also found that only 18 percent of British people even think obesity is a disease, which was the lowest out of the seven countries surveyed. Even more concerning is the fact that 36 percent of Britons who are clinically obese think they are merely overweight, compared to 28 percent in France and 18 percent in Italy.

With obesity becoming more socially acceptable, experts are becoming concerned that being overweight will continue its unabated progress and put more people in denial about the seriousness of the disease. Professor Pinki Sahota of Leeds Beckett University, deputy chairman of the Association for the Study of Obesity, stated: “Obesity is one of the fastest growing threats to the health and well-being of our society. And yet this survey shows that many people still appear to have little understanding of what equals a healthy weight. The new government, policymakers and health authorities should be greatly concerned by the findings of this survey. It confirms much greater effort is needed to educate people about the fact obesity is a disease.”

With more than 74 percent of men and 64 percent of women in the UK projected to be overweight by 2030, according to the World Health Organization, the epidemic is expected to cost the National Health Service 50 billion pounds by 2050. The Government’s Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, has repeatedly warned that being overweight has become the new normal due to an unhealthy lifestyle and diet.
Take Sue Waldock, a human resources professional who weighed 21 stone (approximately 194 pounds) at age 62 and was told by her doctors that she needed weight loss surgery. She was shocked. In her words, “I knew I was overweight but I was quite active. I thought surgery was for other people, not me. Yes, I was in denial about it – it creeps up on you.”

Mrs. Waldock, who currently weighs 11 stone thanks to a private operation that cost her 10,000 pounds, said she struggled with her weight her entire life, but it wasn’t until later in life where she really noticed the impacts, like joint strain.

Even though the Department of Health has recognized the problem and provided funding to local authorities to tackle obesity in their areas, early comments suggest they might not totally understand the underlying details that lead to obesity. Focused on reducing fat, sugar, and salt in foods, their Change4Life campaign might lead consumers on another path that can be just as dangerous.

This direction has been taken in North America for many years now, and the low-fat and sugar diets have arguably created other problems due to their popular substitutions like artificial sweeteners. There are also dangers associated with avoiding beneficial fats that the body requires in order to function optimally.
Let’s not replace one problem with another. Instead, we must focus on the primary reasons people are overweight, namely excessive toxicity, malnutrition, chronic stress, and being sedentary. Then, authorities address the real cause of obesity and knock this epidemic down, one pound at a time.

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Obesity: They say you are what you eat. But the question is, do you really want to be what you eat?

Let’s look at what’s available in the grocery stores these days. The chicken you buy is injected with all kinds of steroids; the fruits and vegetables have been sprayed with pesticides; sugar and flour are being whitened with bleach and your steak comes from a cow, pumped full of antibiotics.

Obesity is a huge issue, not just in the United States, but in many developing countries as well. Let’s go step by step. A chicken is made four to five times its natural size in one-tenth the time it takes to be fully grown by injecting it with hormones and steroids. Now, you eat that chicken. Upon consumption, those same hormones float in your body. You are on a serious high-protein, low carb diet. What do you eat a lot of? Bingo! Chicken! So that same high protein diet that is supposed to help you lose weight, not only makes you gain weight but you develop a weird hormonal imbalance as well.

If you are a vegetarian, you have another set of issues to deal with. The fruits and vegetables you eat have quite often been treated with pesticides and fertilisers, not to mention exposed to contaminated water. You may think you are living a healthy, yogi-like lifestyle but the truth is that you are missing many of the vitamins and minerals that should be present in your meals. Even the lentils and legumes we buy are polished and cleaned with chemicals.

Lets not forget fizzy or soft drinks. These colas comprise colour additives, preservatives, stabilisers, plus a huge amount of white sugar. Leave a rusty nail in a glass of cola for three days — it will be shiny and good as new. If that’s what it does to the nail, imagine what its consumption can do to your insides. And, by the way, sugar free colas aren’t particularly good for you either. This is because the aspartame in the diet colas is actually a weight loss inhibitor. It clashes with your metabolism and slows it down. So even if you don’t gain weight, you won’t really lose it either.

Most of us can’t live without sugar. But white sugar is not just terrible for your body. In some cases, it is bleached with bone char made from animal bones. Does that sound even remotely healthy to you? Not to me. As for the spices we use, even those are often adulterated.

Take turmeric, for example. Homegrown dried and ground turmeric doesn’t stain your hands, has more flavour and possesses healing properties. The one out of the box appears to be like coloured talcum powder.

If all this wasn’t enough, the water we drink out of the tap is filthier than gutter water. As a result, many people filter tap water first and then boil it. Mineral water has become questionable at best. It is supposedly safe to drink but there are now so many fake ‘mineral’ water brands available in the market so there is no way of knowing what you’re drinking.

I am the parent of a nine-year-old child and frankly, I’m petrified. I took him to a nutritionist and she shared another rather disturbing fact. According to her, the so-called brown bread that I had been making him eat for the past two years was just that — brown, only in colour. Most of the brown breads available in the market are not whole wheat or multigrain. As a mother or concerned homemaker, what does one do? How do you switch over to organic completely and what’s the guarantee that what I’m buying is purely organic?

The developed world is moving towards an organic lifestyle but we are still stuck in this processed and tampered food rut. We can’t seem to let go of the three white poisons: sugar, salt and flour. Sadly, Pakistan actually produces a lot of the organic products that are found in grocery stores abroad but Pakistanis want the boxed, processed goods instead. Then we wonder why cancer and organ failure has become so common. If we want healthier lives, we need to move towards healthier food choices. According to one report, your fitness level is determined 85 per cent by the food you eat and only 15 per cent by your exercise levels.

So, it’s high time we take control of what we eat. If nothing else, think of growing vegetables and fruits on your roof or in your garden. Buy organic eggs and chicken from a reliable source, switch to brown sugar (Shakkar or Gur) and honey (unprocessed), use extra virgin oils, get your spices ground from the pansari, boil water for 10 minutes before drinking and pray really hard that you stay healthy. 

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