Tag Archives: Obesity

FoodGate: The Problem with the US Food System

You can’t fix healthcare until you fix health. You can’t fix health until you fix the diet. And you can’t fix the diet until you know what’s wrong. What went wrong? FoodGate.

Endocrinologist Robert Lustig, Dentist Cristen Kearns and Health Policy Expert Laura Schmidt team up to explore how the US food system has led to higher rates in obesity and related metabolic diseases in the last 50 years.

Preventable disease rates keep going up, even while behaviors have improved: smoking rates are down, cholesterol and blood pressure are down, and physical activity is up. We should be reaping a health benefit, but we’re not. The primary reason: we’re eating too many refined carbohydrates and too much sugar.

How did the food system come to encourage this? Pharmaceutical companies benefit from long-term drug treatment of metabolic diseases. Organizations such as the Sugar Association and the Beverage Association fund questionable scientific studies to convince the public that obesity and sugar are not related. These efforts include funding aggressive marketing campaigns to influence public policy. According to Schmidt, they spent 31 million dollars in a single election to convince voters in San Francisco and Oakland not to support a soda tax.

But there is hope. Research into the effects of too much sugar is getting attention, thanks to the efforts of Dr. Lustig and others. There are many parallels between this issue and smoking. According to Schmidt, we’re about where we were in 1970. The tide is slowly shifting, but we have a long way to go. Policy-makers are just now beginning to recognize the negative consequences of an unhealthy populace on healthcare costs and future social security benefits. Lustig advises, “You want social security? Stop drinking soda and tell all your friends to do so, too.”

Watch FoodGate: The Break-in, the Cover-up, and the Aftermath.

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Is There a Link Between Obesity and Diabetes?

8232Diabetes is the nation’s seventh-leading cause of death and a prime cause of kidney failure, blindness, nontraumatic limb amputations, heart disease, and stroke. Of the people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, about 80 percent are also diagnosed as obese. This fact provides a clue to the link between diabetes and obesity.

Being overweight places extra stress on your body in a number of ways, including your body’s ability to maintain proper blood glucose levels. Just being overweight can cause your body to become resistant to insulin. If you already have diabetes, this means you will need to take even more insulin to get sugar into your cells. And if you don’t have diabetes, the prolonged effects of the insulin resistance can eventually cause you to develop the disease.

In this Health Matters program, Dr. Alan Saltiel joins host Dr. David Granet to examine the link between weight and diabetes, how our metabolism can influence our health, the role evolution plays, and where current research is trending.

Watch Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes and visit the Health Matters series to browse more programs.

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Global Food Systems with Mary Robinson

Over one billion people today are undernourished. That means roughly one in seven people across the globe eat roughly one meal a day, if that.

Children in developing countries live with chronic hunger that stunts growth and weakens immune systems, while more and more people in wealthy countries grow obese. But there are starving children in wealthy countries too – families living on food stamps, making it impossible to ignore the inequality between the wealthy and the poor. As food becomes scarce, families are forced to eat cheaper, less nutritious meals, which can have devastating long-term affects on entire populations.

Within the past few years, we have witnessed food shortages like the global food crisis of 2008 and the East Africa food crisis of 2011. In Haiti in 2008, food prices rose to 50-100% of their normal price, which led to unrest, violence, and the ousting of the Prime Minister. Although some things like drought or infestations of vermin can be blamed for food shortages, many of the causes are man-made and avoidable.

Mary Robinson, formerly the first female President of Ireland and now the President of the Mary Robinson Foundation, speaks at the University of California Global Food Systems Forum to discuss these issues with experts and fellow human rights activists.

Robinson warns that climate change will only make matters worse. Rising sea levels will swallow up potential farm lands while increasing temperatures will turn farm lands to deserts. Watch “Mary Robinson – Global Food Systems” to learn more about the challenges ahead.

Check out other videos about how gardening and agriculture must feed our growing population.

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Sleep On This: Connecting Sleep Habits to Health

Slide from “How is Sleep Related to Obesity? Sleep and Weight Gain,” available on UCTV (click image to go to the program)

Sleep deprivation takes a huge toll on society, and not just because it makes for a cranky population. Poor sleep has been linked to a range of health problems and researchers at the University of California and elsewhere are working to better understand how sleep — or lack of it — impacts our brains and bodies.

Two new UCTV programs highlight sleep research on specific segments of the population: women and older people.

UCTV Prime’s “Sleep, Memory and Age” shows how scientists at UC Berkeley have found a link between poor sleep and the hallmark maladies of old age: memory loss and brain deterioration. Their discovery opens the door to boosting the quality of sleep in elderly people to improve memory.

In Women and Sleep: From Stressful to Restful,” UCSF School of Nursing’s Kathryn Lee explores sleep, fatigue, and circadian rhythms in women.

There are plenty more intriguing sleep research updates from UCTV, which you can browse here. You might also be interested in “Sleep, Stress and Obesity: A Weighty Issue,” a five-part series from UCSF’s Center for Obesity, Assessment, Study and Treatment (COAST), which examines this three-pronged problem from a variety of interesting angles, including how sleep and stress impact our metabolism and brain function, why adequate sleep and stress reduction may be the 21st century pillars of health, and how sleep and stress may explain disparities in obesity risk.

Get in your jammies, grab a warm glass of milk and gain a whole new understanding of of the importance of a good night’s sleep.

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Sleep, Stress & Obesity: A Weighty Issue

Obesity is our nation’s greatest epidemic and public health challenge and the folks at the UCSF Center for Obesity, Assessment, Study and Treatment (COAST) have found an interesting new angle in which to approach it — through sleep.

In one of the first scientific conferences to focus on the interactions between sleep, stress and obesity, COAST gathered together leading researchers from across the country to examine the problem from a variety of interesting angles, including how sleep and stress impact our metabolism and brain function, why adequate sleep and stress reduction may be the 21st century pillars of health, and more. And now you can join in on this groundbreaking exchange of information.

Watch “Sleep, Stress & Obesity: A Weighty Issue” on UCTV.

Here are the first two programs in the five-part series, with more coming online each week. And check out the COAST series page for more obesity-related video.

Sleep and Weight Gain

Sleep Epidemiology

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