The Chicken or the Egg? Are Weight Issues a result of the American Diet or are we Programmed for Obesity?
I attended and spoke at a conference this past weekend on diabetes and pregnancy. One fascinating lecture this year gave the appalling statistics: 10.7% of the adult US population has diabetes and 19% has pre-diabetes.
These two percentages together mean that almost 30% of the adult US population has diabetes.
The researcher, Thomas Moore, MD from UC San Diego School of Medicine asked this question:
“Are our children becoming fat because we overfeed them or…because they were overfed in the womb and are programmed for obesity?”
From multiple conferences I’ve attended over the past few years there is a huge discrepancy about how to diagnose gestational diabetes and where the cutoffs for normalized blood sugar should be during pregnancy.
Many argue for lower cutoffs to help with decreasing the number of large babies and others argue we don’t have the manpower to take care of all those who would fit into the diagnostic criteria.
Pregnancy programs a child’s metabolic roadmap for life.
If a Mom has a history of diabetes, gains over 35 pounds during pregnancy and/or consumes a high carbohydrate diet, her child will most likely be set up for insulin resistance, weight issues and diabetes during the course of his or her life. Even if the Mom is not diagnosed with gestational diabetes, the research points towards these problems.
I have more women in my practice than ever before who are gaining weight at a rapid pace once they become pregnant. Many times these woman had no previous weight issues.
Insulin resistance triples in pregnancy so if there is some hint of insulin resistance already in the Mom there can be an intergenerational transfer of diabetes and weight issues.
What is the take home message?
Is it the chicken or the egg? Is it our diet or just our genetics?
It is probably both.
Our diets are higher than ever in processed starchy carbs, which are convenient, easy and readily available. Balanced meals and snacks with protein take more time to prepare and are harder to get on the go. Animals are fed corn/soy versus grass, which helps them rapidly gain weight, which in turn affects our systems. GMO’s are abundant which influences both our metabolism and DNA.
The American population is more sedentary than ever, even though exercise is shown to significantly lower risk of diabetes.
What can we do as a nation? Purchasing power speaks volumes:
Buy grass-fed beef, chicken and wild fish
Just say no to GMO’s in your diet
Shop at Farmer’s markets for local and organic produce
Steer clear of processed packaged foods
And control what you can by building in daily activity and exercise.
Education around prevention of diabetes is essential one person at a time so by the turn of the next century we are not approaching 50% incidence of diabetes as a nation.
I once heard a wise man say “what goes deepest to the heart goes widest to the world.” This message has been in my heart for a long time and I hope it will go wider to the world each day.