Tag Archives | Obesity

EU Rules Obesity Can Count As Disability

Just when you thought that the obese were the last large class of people left unprotected by discrimination laws, the European Union Court of Justice has ruled that if the obesity of a worker “hinders the full and effective participation of that person in professional life on an equal basis with other workers”, then obesity can fall within the concept of “disability.” From BBC News:

Obesity can constitute a disability in certain circumstances, the EU’s highest court has ruled.

The European Court of Justice was asked to consider the case of a male childminder in Denmark who says he was sacked for being too fat.

Grasa-abdominal-cintura.jpg

Photo Fj.toloza992 (CC)

The court said that if obesity could hinder “full and effective participation” at work then it could count as a disability.

The ruling is binding across the EU…

Clive Coleman, the BBC’s legal correspondent, comments:

Today’s ruling was of great interest to employers across Europe. The judgement makes no direct link between Body Mass Index and obesity, but is a powerful statement that an obese worker whose weight hinders their performance at work is entitled to disability protection.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

This is Why Americans are Overweight and Broke

TO-1.jpg

Are the girths of your wallet and your pants contracting and expanding in inverse proportion? Casey Hill explains why Americans are overweight and broke and how the two relate at Marketwatch:

According to a survey of more than 1,123 American workers released Tuesday by Principal Financial Group, two in three Americans said they blew their budget in 2014 — and it’s Americans’ appetites for food that are the main causes for this budget busting.

Dining out is the No. 1 thing Americans say they blew their budget on in 2014 (consequently, it also means they blow their diets: a study of more than 12,500 people published by Public Health Nutrition this year shows that on days when people eat out they consume an average of 200 calories more than those who eat at home). Eating out is followed closely by spending on food/groceries, with 18% of American workers saying they blew their budget on food/groceries.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Cost of Obesity Equivalent to Global Impact of Smoking or War

Wide Chair.jpg

Obese person’s chair (CC)

Some of you may recall the opening sequence to the obesity documentary Killer At Large where then-Surgeon General Richard Carmona says that the greatest threat to America, bigger than terrorism or anything else, is obesity.

He was right: The McKinsey Global Institute, the business and economics research arm of the global consulting firm McKinsey, has published a new report saying that “Obesity is responsible for about 5 percent of all deaths a year worldwide, and its global economic impact amounts to roughly $2 trillion annually, or 2.8 percent of global GDP—nearly equivalent to the global impact of smoking or of armed violence, war, and terrorism.” That’s right, obesity costs as much as the ridiculous wars and armed violence perpetrated against one another throughout the world. More from the report:

Obesity is a critical global issue that requires a comprehensive, international intervention strategy. More than 2.1 billion people—nearly 30 percent of the global population—are overweight or obese.1 That’s almost two and a half times the number of adults and children who are undernourished…

And the problem—which is preventable—is rapidly getting worse.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Do Gut Bacteria Rule Our Minds? In an Ecosystem within Us, Microbes Evolved to Sway Food Choices

This image illustrates the relationship between gut bacteria and unhealthy eating. Credit: Courtesy of UC San Francisco

This image illustrates the relationship between gut bacteria and unhealthy eating. Credit: Courtesy of UC San Francisco

via ScienceDaily:

It sounds like science fiction, but it seems that bacteria within us — which outnumber our own cells about 100-fold — may very well be affecting both our cravings and moods to get us to eat what they want, and often are driving us toward obesity.

In an article published this week in the journal BioEssays, researchers from UC San Francisco, Arizona State University and University of New Mexico concluded from a review of the recent scientific literature that microbes influence human eating behavior and dietary choices to favor consumption of the particular nutrients they grow best on, rather than simply passively living off whatever nutrients we choose to send their way.

Bacterial species vary in the nutrients they need. Some prefer fat, and others sugar, for instance. But they not only vie with each other for food and to retain a niche within their ecosystem — our digestive tracts — they also often have different aims than we do when it comes to our own actions, according to senior author Athena Aktipis, PhD, co-founder of the Center for Evolution and Cancer with the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCSF.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Should Obesity Be Categorized As A Disability?

PIC: PD

“Brilliant, my good man. I must make haste to the haberdasher at once to seek recompense for the injury of this comically small hat. Ta.”

Should obesity be considered a disability, the door would be opened for obese people to sue in cases of discrimination.

As the number of people struggling with obesity continues to rise around the world, governments are faced with the increasingly complex problem of helping these individuals deal with the unique challenges they face. Case in point: Discrimination against overweight and obese individuals in the workplace. While weight-based bias is well-documented in many countries, legislation is only just beginning to address the issue.

This week, for example, the highest court in the European Union is hearing a case brought by a babysitter who says he was fired because he was obese. Judges in the case will be forced to decide whether obesity itself can be considered a disability, independent of any other medical issues.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Researchers Suggest Long-Term, Sustained Weight-Loss Is Nearly Impossible

PIC: PD

PIC: PD

I went from 194 to about 153 lbs. last year, and have held my weight steadily between 152 and 159 lbs. ever since. That said, what is considered a healthy weight varies between individuals, and with genetics, lifestyle factors, and environmental influences, it’s hard for me to make any sweeping judgments about body size, health, weight loss, and your average person’s experiences. I’m inclined to be skeptical about this study’s conclusion for many of the same reasons Cory Doctorow is.

Here’s a CBC science piece quoting several obesity experts argues that long-term weight loss is almost impossible, saying that (uncited) meta-analyses of weight-loss intervention found that in the 5- to 10-year range, most weight-loss was reversed. According to Tim Caulfield, who holds a Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, this is an open secret in scholarly and scientific weight-loss circles, but no one wants to talk about it for fear that it will scare people off of healthier eating and exercise regimes, which have benefits independent of weight-loss.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

You’re More Likely To Eat High-Calorie Foods If You Believe Obesity Is A Disease

PIC: PD

PIC: PD

In 2013, the American Medical Association recognized obesity as a disease. The decision had unintended consequences, among them that believing that it is a disease makes you more likely to eat high calorie food. The belief does help people to have a more positive body image, though.

Via PsyPost:

…new psychology research suggests the “obesity is a disease” message actually undermines important weight-loss efforts.

“The term disease suggests that bodies, physiology, and genes are malfunctioning. By invoking physiological explanations for obesity, the disease label encourages the perception that weight is unchangeable,” Crystal L. Hoyt of the University of Richmond and her colleagues wrote in their study, which was published in the April issue of Psychological Science.

In three separate studies with more than 700 participants, the researchers found that obese participants who read a New York Times article about the AMA declaring obesity to be a disease were subsequently less likely to be concerned about their weight and more likely to choose to eat higher-calorie foods.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Humans Can Use Smell to Detect Levels of Dietary Fat

Pic: Rasbak (CC)

Pic: Rasbak (CC)

Via ScienceDaily:

New research from the Monell Center reveals humans can use the sense of smell to detect dietary fat in food. As food smell almost always is detected before taste, the findings identify one of the first sensory qualities that signals whether a food contains fat. Innovative methods using odor to make low-fat foods more palatable could someday aid public health efforts to reduce dietary fat intake.

“The human sense of smell is far better at guiding us through our everyday lives than we give it credit for,” said senior author Johan Lundström, PhD, a cognitive neuroscientist at Monell. “That we have the ability to detect and discriminate minute differences in the fat content of our food suggests that this ability must have had considerable evolutionary importance.”

As the most calorically dense nutrient, fat has been a desired energy source across much of human evolution. As such, it would have been advantageous to be able to detect sources of fat in food, just as sweet taste is thought to signal a source of carbohydrate energy.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Junk Food Might Be Destroying Ancient Beneficial Gut Bacteria

Pic: Evan-Amos (CC)

Pic: Evan-Amos (CC)

Could we be carpet bombing our bacterial allies with Twinkies, french fries, and other examples of Western junk food? Maybe so, and it might be making us obese.

Via Next Nature:

It’s an old axe that you are what you eat, but a growing body of evidence suggests that, in terms of our gut bacteria, it’s really true. Recent research shows that the standard ‘Western’ diet high in animal fat, sugars, and refined carbohydrates fundamentally alters the bacterial ecosystem in our intestines. The bacteria that thrive in the house that McDonald’s built are not only associated with obesity, but may actually excrete waste compounds that cause obesity.

So, what’s an overweight person to do? If they’ve still got healthy bacteria lurking around, a switch to whole grains, fruits and vegetables will do the trick. The truly desperate – those who find losing weight to be nigh impossible – they can try a fecal transplant from a skinny person.

Read the rest
Continue Reading