The obesity epidemic and related disorders (such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension) have significantly increased throughout our country and the world. Obesity is not only detrimental to our health and quality of life, but it puts a huge strain on our health care system. It may come as no surprise that the driving force behind these metabolic dysfunctions or consequences found in many disease states is sugar, in particular high-fructose corn syrup. The body treats sugar in the same way it treats alcohol and other toxins, leading to liver and other organ damage. According to Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist practicing in the field of neuroendocrinology, 80 percent of obese people do not have normal metabolic function. Furthermore, 40 percent of individuals also suffer from metabolic dysfunction and are therefore also prone to obesity-related diseases. The sad truth is that the primary diseases related to metabolic dysfunction are responsible for 75 percent of all healthcare costs in our country.
How did we get here? While there are multiple causative factors involved, changes in our society since the 1960’s have a lot to do with it. Our food environment has been drastically modified (especially the higher sugar/high-fructose corn syrup content in so many of our foods), lack of physical activity, and exposure to and consumption of industrial and agricultural chemicals have had a disastrous impact on our biochemistry. While it may be true, to a point, that lack of exercise and consuming too many calories increases your chances of becoming obese, other contributing factors include:
- Artificial sweeteners
- Endocrine-disrupting chemicals, including pesticides
- Overuse of antibiotics in food production and medicine
- Insidious and aggressive marketing of junk food
Metabolic dysfunction adversely impacts a majority of our country’s population, even those who are not obese. Once again, consuming a healthy diet, regular exercise, and daily stress management go a long way to prevent the development of many disease states.