An Alarming Trend

According the an article dated October 24, 2002 in USA TODAY, titled Scales Tipping Toward Diabetes -- If Americans keep putting on the pounds at the current rate, almost everyone is going to be overweight by 2030, a top obesity researcher says.

And this probably will lead to a skyrocketing number of people who develop diabetes, a disease that can have catastrophic health consequences, including heart attacks, strokes, blindness, kidney disease and amputations, experts say. Ultimately, treating the disease and its complications could bankrupt the health care system, they warn.

I think everyone is going to get fat, says weight-loss researcher John Foreyt of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. The obesity epidemic is going to continue. I believe that. I'm not just talking to be an alarmist. And it's not just cosmetic; it's a serious problem.

According to Calle EE, Thun MJ, Petrelli JM, Rodriguez C, Heath CW Jr of the Department of Epidemiology and Surveillance Research, American Cancer Society, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA., as reported in Body-Mass Index and Mortality in a Prospective Cohort of U.S. Adults. ( the following conclusions are drawn from a study of 1 million adult men and women over 14 years:

Heavier men and women in all age groups had an increased risk of death. CONCLUSIONS: The risk of death from all causes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, or other diseases increases throughout the range of moderate and severe overweight for both men and women in all age groups.

These grim projections from some of the nation's top obesity and diabetes doctors are based on new government statistics showing that almost 65% of American adults, or more than 120 million people, are overweight or obese.

About 31% of adults older than 20 are obese, defined as roughly 30 pounds or more over healthy body weight, and 34% are overweight, which is about 10 to 30 pounds above a healthy weight.

Foreyt predicted in a 1995 scientific journal article that almost everyone in the USA would be overweight or obese by 2230. Now he has moved that up 200 years. At the rate we're going, he says, almost everyone could be not just overweight, but obese, by 2100.

In reality, Foreyt and others say, we won't reach a point at which every single American will weigh too much. Some small percentage, possibly 5% to 15%, probably will be able to maintain a healthy weight because they are genetically protected, or they are willing to carefully watch what they eat and be fairly active. But they will be part of an ever-increasing minority, Foreyt says.

That's a serious problem not only for Americans' health, which will be at growing risk for diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, cancer and other health problems, but also for the health care system. Some experts predict it could buckle under the weight of these obesity- related complications.

Of greatest concern is diabetes, the most prevalent, serious medical complication of being overweight and obese, says Samuel Klein, president of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO).

Reflecting scientific concern over the confluence of diabetes and obesity, the American Diabetes Association is collaborating with NAASO at the obesity researchers' annual meeting next fall.

Diabetes is a condition in which the body does not make enough of the hormone insulin, or it doesn't use the insulin properly. Insulin helps sugar get into cells, where it is used for energy. If not enough insulin is produced or if insulin does not function normally, sugar builds up in the blood, damaging nerves and blood vessels.

There's an incredibly strong link between obesity and diabetes, linked to the inability of the body to make use of sugars normally, says pediatric endocrinologist Francine Kaufman, president of the American Diabetes Association. As weight increases, the body produces extra insulin, but there gets to be a point, and we don't understand why, at which the body's need for insulin surpasses its ability to produce it, she says.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form, affecting up to 95% of the more than 17 million Americans who have the disease. Unlike type 1, or juvenile, diabetes, which is caused by destruction of insulin- producing cells in the pancreas, type 2 is associated with a combination of genetics, excess weight and a lack of exercise. Those result in a cascade of physical changes leading to the disease.

Cost of Obesity: $123 Billion in 2001

Experts say the USA and other countries simply can't afford to deal with the problem. Obesity cost the USA about $123 billion in 2001, including direct health care costs for diseases related to obesity and indirect costs such as loss of productivity, according to an analysis by Anne Wolf of the University of Virginia.

We calculated that 61% of diabetes is attributed to obesity, Wolf says. The direct cost of obesity is about 30% higher than coronary heart disease, she says.

Diabetes is going to be the way this obesity epidemic breaks the bank, says James Hill, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver.

Foreyt agrees. We're just not prepared from a health care point of view to handle the type 2 diabetes we're going to see in the next few years.

A Problem of Our Children

Type 2 diabetes is on the rise in all age groups. Until about 20 years ago, it almost never occurred in teens or children, but doctors say almost half the new cases of diabetes diagnosed in kids are type 2.

Because an estimated 20% to 30% of American children are either overweight or at risk of becoming so, the rates of diabetes in teens and young adults in just a few years could be staggering, experts say.

What used to be a disease of our parents and grandparents is now a problem of our children, Kaufman says.

The costs will be felt not only by individuals and families, but also by society as a whole, she says. This could impact on the workforce in the next generation.

Hill and colleagues are treating children as young as 11 with the disease.

We are seeing a lot of type 2 diabetes in overweight children, and these are just the ones that come in. The speculation is that there are a bunch of overweight kids who have it, but who don't know they have it, Hill says. This is new to our medical system to be treating this in children. We have no idea what a 12-year-old with this disease will look like at 40 or 50, or even if they'll make it to 50.

Experts believe genetics plays a key role in who develops diabetes. Some people will never become diabetic even though they are very fat, but others have a genetic predisposition and might develop it even if they are just a few pounds overweight, says Xavier Pi-Sunyer, chief of endocrinology at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York.

That genetic liability is highest in certain ethnic groups, such as Native Americans, Mexican-Americans and other Hispanics, he says. For example, he says, about 70% of Pima Indians are overweight, and about 50% are diabetic.

Once a person has diabetes, it can lead to a host of other health care issues, especially if it is not controlled. The biggest problem with diabetic patients is they have a higher rate of heart disease, Pi-Sunyer says. They are more likely to die of heart attacks and strokes.

Yet studies show that by keeping blood pressure, cholesterol and blood-sugar levels under control, people with diabetes can reduce the risk of complications. For every 1% reduction in blood-sugar levels, there is a 40% reduction in risk for eye, kidney and nerve diseases; for every 10-point reduction in systolic blood pressure (the top number), the risk of any complication from diabetes is reduced 12%; improving cholesterol and triglycerides reduces cardiovascular complications by 20% to 50%.

Stop Obesity, Stymie Diabetes

One thing we really have to do in this country is to start treating obesity as an illness, says Matt Petersen of the American Diabetes Association. We know the primary risk factor for type 2 diabetes is obesity. If we can stop people from getting obese, we could prevent a significant amount of type 2 diabetes.

Research shows that if patients at high risk for developing diabetes make lifestyle changes -- exercise regularly and lose 5% to 7% of their weight -- they can decrease their chance of progressing to diabetes by 58%.

Type 2 diabetes is very sensitive to weight loss, says Wolf of the University of Virginia. When diabetics lose a few pounds, it can improve glucose control, she says.

It is so amazing to see that a small weight loss can improve health and quality of life and get these people off some of their medications, Wolf says. We're seeing reductions in health care costs, and the study patients feel so good about themselves.

The Macrobiotic Solution

Macrobiotics offers a simple solution to the problems discussed above, because the Macrobiotic diet is the lowest-fat, sustainable diet around.

I have personally never heard of anyone becoming overweight from practicing the Macrobiotic diet.

In fact, most people who begin the Macrobiotic diet lose some weight. Typically, there is an immediate weight loss that may drop body weight below what is considered normal for a while until the body begins to recover the ability to build weight from low-fat foods.

Some people become concerned about this weight loss, and question what they are doing. Usually there is no need for alarm -- the weight-loss is temporary and stabilizes itself automatically over time.

However, if weight loss involves tiredness and low-blood sugar, this may be due to inability to digest and assimilate the primarily vegetarian foods of the standard Macrobiotic diet.

A prolonged inability to gain weight can be caused by a digestive system compromised by years of abuse or infectious disorder(s). It could also be due to lack of sufficient enzymes in the diet, or compromised ability to create the enzymes needed to digest food properly.

It is generally advised to include more oily foods, like tempura (deep-fried vegetables), beans, natto (Japanese fermented bean dish), and full-fat tofu, as well as nuka (rice bran) pickles and nappa (Chinese cabbage) pickles with every meal.

Including pickled, fermented foods in the daily diet, like nuka (rice bran) pickles, sauerkraut (pickled cabbage), miso in soups, sauces and spreads, raw, grated daikon (long, white Oriental radish) served with fried foods and rice, can assist digestion. These foods make it easier for the body to assimilate food nutrients, and therefore gain weight.

Pickled vegetables provide enzymes which help digest and assimilate the high-carbohydrate foods of the Macrobiotic diet. They are extremely important for everyone who would like to be successful following the Macrobiotic diet.

Too many people neglect to include pickled vegetables with each meal, and consequently think the diet must be flawed when they notice problems with low energy or indigestion. They may gravitate toward using yoghurt to get the needed enzymes and lactobacilli ("friendly" bacteria, essential to intestinal and immune system health) that are otherwise missing, expecially if they also neglect to include miso soup made without subjecting the miso to boiling temperatures. Boiling miso kills beneficial micro-organisms, ferments and lactobacilli.

If weakness is also a problem, even a little cheese made from organically-raised animals, and/or organic, fertilized chicken eggs with the yolks can be included to accomodate the reality that a prior dependency on foods of animal origin may necessitate a gradual transition to a more vegetarian regime.

Chewing food thoroughly is also very important, because well-masticated food provides more nutrients. When food is not chewed thoroughly, much of it passes through the digestive tract undigested and unabsorbed.

Undigested food produces gases due to bacterial decomposition. When food ferments in the intestine instead of being absorbed, the intestines become expanded. To feel full, people tend to eat more than they need to fill their ever-expanding stomachs and intestines. With intestinal expansion comes increasing flaccidity (loss of muscle tone). Loss of intestinal muscle tone inhibits peristalisis (autonomic intestinal contractions that move food through the alimentary canal).

Food needs to move through the intestines within 12-24 hours to avoid auto-toxification (poisoning). If it remains there for a longer time, which it does when the intestine has become expanded by acidification of inadequately chewed food, as well as from food low in fiber, or the physical, mechanical difficulty of trying to process too much food (from overeating), fermentation (of vegetal matter) and/or putrefaction (decomposition of animal-origin foods) takes place.

A large number of people in the modern world, both men and women, appear to be experiencing late-stage pregnancies, due to their grossly distended abdominal cavities. Such a state poses a serious health risk, not only to themselves, but to others who depend on them. These people are more likely to experience serious or life-threatening disorders at some time in their lives.

Obesity places an inordinate strain not only on the body's skeletal and muscular structures, but internal organs like heart, lungs, liver and kidneys. It becomes more difficult to pump blood through fatty tissue. Fatty tissue presses upon the circulatory system externally. Build up of hardened fat (cholesterol) within arteries, veins and heart chambers restricts blood flow and overworks the heart. If not corrected, heart failure, stroke and aneurism can result.

Besides the disorders mentioned in the USA TODAY article above, obesity can also make it more difficult to breathe, especially at night. Auto-asphixiation can result.

Obesity can also contribute to snoring, due to partial blockage of respiratory passages by fatty tissue. Snoring, once considered more of a nuisance to those who have to endure sleepless nights because of a partner's snoring, is now recognized as a health hazard to those who snore as well. Snoring can prevent people from being able to rest deeply. This in turn can contribute to fatigue, anxiety and depression. It can also make one more accident-prone, due to inhibited ability to react in time to avert danger.

There is nothing funny about being overweight. It must be recognized as a serious health problem with serious side-effects. It must be confronted and dealt with properly.

It is interesting how many people, in their search for a sustainable, weight-reducing diet, arrive at an approach that resembles the Macrobiotic standard diet in many ways. For example, Oriental cooking, stir-fried foods, Wok Cookery and vegetarian diets are credited by many celebrities for their slim and trim appearences.

As the USA TODAY article above so clearly states, obesity could bankrupt the health-care system. It could also lead the way to a healthier, more enlightened world community of people who take their health more seriously, and change their eating habits toward the healthier, sustainable alternative that Macrobiotics offers.

The large number of fad diets, dietary supplements, exercise programs and exercise equipment available today are not sustainable methods of dealing with the problem of obesity. Macrobiotics is the only method that offers a practical, sustainable, long term benefit. It is the method our ancestors discovered keeps them fit and functioning at peak performance lvels under the most demanding conditions and environments.

Obesity -- the outcome of affluence and technological ingenuity, does not need to lead to serious health problems or premature demise. Thanks to Macrobiotics, we can enjoy the benefits of modern civilization while maintaining healthy, fit and productive lives.

Macrobiotics is the answer in an age that has all but given up on finding real, long-term answers rather than "quick-fixes". It is an answer that does not cost money, but actually saves money that would otherwise go toward all kinds of expensive programs, supplements, equipment, not to mention medical expenses and lost productivity due to compromised health.

Macrobiotics is the way to turn the tide away from the reality of economic and health disaster facing for more and more people, their families and loved ones.

It is hoped more people will acknowledge, study and embrace Macrobiotics and restore themselves, their families and their lives to the healthy, productive state of well-being everyone desires.