Obesity and Weight Loss
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Here you have an interview between Dr. Garry
Egger, weight loss specialist and Reporter Norman Swan about Obesity and Weight Loss showing how scary the future might be for quite a few people. The figures predicted are astounding and show that we need to be very watchful in how and what we are as a World
are doing to ourselves.
Summary: Paris hosted the 8th International Congress on Obesity. Dr. Garry Egger, the founder of the Gutbuster program, reports from the conference.
News in weight loss and obesity from the home of good food and overeating:
One of the attendees was Dr Garry Egger, founder of the Gutbuster program.
Garry took notes for The Health Report on what people in Paris were saying about fatness.
Garry Egger: It's actually being regarded for the first time as a pandemic, and as with many pandemics, they're very difficult
to turn around.
Norman Swan: Just give us the figures.
Garry Egger: Australia is being held up as a bit of an example in a way, because they're suggesting now that we will rise
from about 8% obesity a few years ago, to 35% of the population being obese.
That's not just fat, that is obese, that's with a BMI (Body Mass Index) over 30. It's 35% of the population, or one in three
by the year 2025.
Now that would translate to almost 90% of the whole population being overweight.
So it's going to be a rarity if you maintain lean
body mass in a few years time.
Norman Swan: Why is that happening?
Garry Egger: Well for the first time, and I've been to a couple of these conferences, the shift tends to be
away from food intake as being the main cause of the problem, and looking more at energy expenditure.
And the deficient energy expenditure that's occurred amongst individuals around the world, because
of the rise of technology which just means we don't have to do things as much anymore, seems to be now starting to take much more of a role as a cause of the problem.
There are big spreads in the French
papers here just recently, with McDonald's and Coca Cola denying that they had anything to do with the problem, and suggesting that their products really only are a small part of it.
And I guess to a certain
extent that's true.
When you look at even this conference, there's escalators here that go between floors and stairs that go alongside the escalators, and even the attendants at the conference here, the
escalators are chock a block, and nobody is walking up and down the stairs, and yet they're promoting that in the conference.
Norman Swan: How does Australia rate then to the United States of America or the UK?
Garry Egger: If you look at European populations, we would be second after North America.
Norman Swan: Is anybody talking about children and children's obesity?
Egger: Well children is the big topic of discussion here at the moment.
And the main thing that's come out of it is that there's a very close relationship between children's television viewing
time and obesity levels.
Now that obviously has links with other things, because there's parents' issues about safety, the fact that kids aren't let outside to play as much these days because of the concerns
that parents have, mean that they have to be doing something inside, and that quite often means sitting and watching television.
So there's now some novel talk about ways to make kids become more active,
and making the television viewing contingent on their level of physical activity.
Norman Swan: And what level of obesity are they talking about amongst children in, say, countries like Australia and the United States?
Garry Egger: In the United States, which is greater than Australia of course, it's now up to about between 20% and 40% of under-ten year olds are regarded as overweight or obese.
Australia we're not that sure of the figures, but the indications are that it's about 15% of under-12 year olds are regarded as overweight or obese, and about 30% of under-18 year olds.
Norman Swan: Somebody was saying
that that translates into what a daily excess of two grams per day, which doesn't sound like a lot, but it adds up.
Garry Egger: In the United States, it's not two grams, it's about point-two grams in children.
In adults there's been estimates from Australia which are quite unique in the world, that Australians have been putting on about a gram a day since 1980, and indeed Australian men, who are fatter than Australian women,
have been putting on about 1.7 grams a day.
So two of a gram in kids, even though it doesn't sound much per day, over the ten years of growth, it's going to be an enormous amount added to the weight that
they would normally put on in lean body mass anyway.
Norman Swan: Is anybody coming up with environmental solutions that improve this exercise load?
Garry Egger: In fact that's one of
the hot topics of the conference.
About 70% to 80% of the conference is based around molecular biology.
The drug companies of course are putting huge
amounts of money into finding a solution, a drug solution, to this problem.
But there's a small but growing group of people who are saying,
'Look, this is the wrong way to go about
Surely if we have a population problem, a public health problem, we have to deal with it at a public health level, and unless we do something about the environment, then this trend towards developing
drugs is not going to have a significant impact.
Norman Swan: But is anybody coming up with any solutions where it's actually working? Nobody in the world's got a weight loss regime that actually works, but if you've got
population which is stable or declining in weight?
Garry Egger: Yes, the Dutch are actually quite stable, and they're quite lean, which is unique when you consider that next to them, the Germans are quite heavy, and the
English on the other side are quite heavy.
Now when you look at their food intake, interestingly enough, it's not much different in total calories or indeed in terms of their
macro nutrient balance, that is the fat versus carbohydrate that they take in.
Norman Swan: You're going to tell me, Garry, it's the bicycles along the flat roads, is it?
That seems to be the answer.
About 70% of journeys to and from work in Holland are made on bicycles, compared to less than 10% in the United Kingdom.
that seems to be the only thing that differentiates them, and yet the Dutch are quite a fair bit leaner than either the English, the Germans or some of the other countries.
Norman Swan: Now well let's talk about drugs.
We've covered it a lot on The Health Report:
Leptin, this hormone that's supposed to suppress appetite, a lot of excitement a couple of years ago on this, not
much now though I believe.
Garry Egger: Well it's been a bit of a disappointment actually, and the first trials that have been produced in humans are less than exciting I must say.
Swan: The other solution that people are looking at are solutions which change the way we deal with our food or energy.
So for example, there's been a bit of publicity given to a new drug which affects
Do we know whether drugs like that work?
Garry Egger: There are indications that it does work.
certainly doesn't work alone, it has to work in combination with a lifestyle-based program.
Norman Swan: Is there a worry there that you get vitamin deficiencies, of fat soluble vitamins like E and D?
Garry Egger: That's the big issue.
It also causes some anal leakage because you're getting fat passing through the system rather than going into the digestive system and passed out.
Norman Swan: And of course in the last year or two, we've had two drug combinations taken off the market, the Fenfluramine and Phentermine, the fen/phen combination because of heart disease concerns, heart valve damage. Much discussion
about that, or is it dead in the water?
Garry Egger: No, in fact it's been revived.
The main drug that was used in Australia was Adifax which was Fenfluramine and we
didn't have the combination being used very much as it was in the United States.
There's an indication now that the valvular problems that were caused by that combination aren't caused by the single drug
as it was used in Australia.
There's also a suggestion too, from the Canadians at Laval University, has done some work to suggest that those valvular problems may occur just in obese people at the same
rate as they do in the people that were given that drug.
So we may see a resurrection of that drug on its own, not the fen/phen combination, but at least the Fenfluramine comeback, but again I think anybody
here that's working with it would suggest that it has to be an adjunct to a lifestyle change rather than a total solution in itself.
Norman Swan: Finally, what about weight loss? It's not necessarily all it's cracked up
to be. I believe at a satellite conference before this main one started, that the Canadians had some disturbing findings from people who are grossly obese who lose weight.
Garry Egger: Yes, and these are people who are
very pro the fact that we need to lose weight, particularly at a population level.
But they found with their obese people that they were able to induce weight loss in, there were some negative effects
that came out of that.
The first and most disturbing of these, and this hasn't really hit the press yet, and they're a little bit concerned about it getting out, widespread, was the fact that industrial
pollutants appear to be stored in fat.
In other words, they're fat soluble, and that when you lose a significant amount of body fat, these pollutants are released into the bloodstream.
What they do from there on we're not sure.
Norman Swan: But Garry, whilst that sounds disturbing, the reality is that if you reduce fat you increase your chances of survival, therefore the net benefit must be
Garry Egger: It's a swings and roundabouts thing.
Anybody that's going to lose weight has to take into account that over the long term it's got to have benefits
both in terms of mortality, illness, morbidity, and indeed the way they feel.
But there may be side effects.
Norman Swan: A brave thing for someone who makes his living
out of weight loss to be saying! Dr Garry Egger of the Gutbutster program. And to clarify any potential conflict of interest, he's also my editorial partner in crime on The Choice Health Reader newsletter.
Guests: Dr. Garry Egger
Health Educator and founder of the Gutbuster Program,
Figures quoted here are not what is wanted for our future and they need to be reduced or we will end
up just a big bad bunch of fat balls, waddling around to the local fat feeding restaurant for another feed of fat!
If you have watched the ‘Disney-Pixar’ movie “Wall-E” you will
know exactly what we will become!
could be of interest to you!