Weight Loss

Weight Loss and Good Health: Not a Simple Matter Any More

April 8, 2015, by Dr. Chris Jackson, DOM, PhD Natural Health, PhD-c Behavioral Medicine

It once was enough to eat a balanced, calorie-restricted diet and exercise regularly. No longer. The U.S. obesity rate for children age 6 to 11 has tripled over the last 30 years (6) and in Canada the rate for adolescents age 12 to 17 is approximately 29% (4). Far from balanced, at least one fast food meal is consumed every two days by approximately 37% of the U.S. population (3). Unfortunately, the trend starts early in life, since approximately three quarters of the U.S. population of teenagers (age 11 to 18) consume fast food for at least one meal per week (3). This is serious, since issues such as diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea, and poor academic performance, as well as poor emotional development, all have been linked to obesity in childhood and adolescence (8). Yet, elementary and middle schools throughout the U.S. offer cafeteria menus based on older nutritional standards and `a la carte items with very limited nutritional content, often containing pesticides and additives (1).

Not included in standard nutrition labeling, additives, antibiotics, pesticides, nitrates, heavy metals, and endocrine disruptors all affect the weight and health of our population. These can seriously affect hormones, cancer development, cognition, and thyroid function, thereby resulting in more weight issues (5). In addition to their contributions to obesity levels, endocrine disruptors add to our toxic loads, thereby challenging our immune systems. They can lead to hormonal imbalances, early puberty, and difficult female cycles (7). Endocrine disruptors also create the potential for development of other hormonally-related disorders, including endometriosis, ovarian cysts, fibrocystic breasts, and prominent types of cancers.

By avoiding fast food, additives, and sources of endocrine disruptors, better weight and better general health can be attained. Read labels! The word NATURAL does NOT mean ORGANIC, which means that items labeled NATURAL may still contain pesticides. It's pretty difficult to totally avoid endocrine disruptors, but here are some basic suggestions that can help. Don't leave plastic drink bottles in hot cars or just use glass-jarred drinks. Read labels to see if packaging is BPA free (it will say so if it is), including canned foods. Avoid farm-raised salmon (wild caught is better) and tilapia, and avoid wild game fish (shark, tile fish, king mackerel, and swordfish) which may be high in mercury (another endocrine disruptor and a toxic heavy metal). Reject skin care products with parabens. Avoid pastries and baked goods, which in addition to parabens, often contain bromates/bromides, chlorine, and fluoride (from tap water) that can lower your metabolism. As you can see, there is much more to weight loss, and good health, than eating a balanced meal!