Biostatician David Allison mimics another famous Dave with Top 10 list
One of the most recognizable features on American television today has got to be the infamous Top 10 list from late-night satirist and small screen legend David Letterman. He's featured lists of all sorts throughout the years on issues involving mostly politics, sports, celebrities, and much, much more.
Well, this Detroit Free Press column features a top ten list from another Dave -- professor of Biostatistics Statistical Genetics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Dr. David Allison -- who with the help of 19 experts on diet, health and nutrition from around the world came up with his very own Top Ten list of reasons for obesity.
Oh this should be good!
After pouring over in excess of 100 studies on obesity, here is what the researchers came up with to explain why obesity exists apart from poor diet and lack of exercise:
TOP 10 LIST OF REASONS FOR OBESITY
1. Inadequate sleep
We live in a fast-paced society in 2006 and sleep seems to be a luxury of the past. But, as my fellow low-carb blogger Regina Wilshire has previously blogged about, not getting an adequate amount of sleep can actually cause you to gain weight. There's no question in my mind that robbing your body of the restorative factors that come from healthy amounts of sleep will weaken your immune system and cause your body to not function at its optimal level. I know I feel best when I have had a minimum of 7-8 hours sleep at night. Try to get that into your busy schedule if at all possible.
2. Endocrine disruptors
Say what? Well, these are synthetic chemicals that are found in certain kinds of foods that can transform fats in the body and cause problems with your body working as it is designed to function. These disrupters can include diethylstilbesterol (the drug DES), dioxin, PCBs, DDT, and some other pesticides. If you ever wanted a good reason to start eating more organic, whole foods as part of your low-carb lifestyle, then here you go!
3. Nice temperatures
Ah, the comforts of modern-day living. Rest and relax in your nice air-conditioned homes and offices when the weather is scorching hot and your warm and cozy heat in the dead of winter. But is that leading us to become overweight and obese? The researchers say we aren't burning as many calories because of this. Phooey on that! I'd rather be comfortable chillin' in my air-conditioned room while I'm working and then sweating my pants off when I go workout. The comforts of life should not be blamed as a causal factor in our obesity if we make the time to exercise.
4. Fewer people smoking
And this is a BAD thing? Anyone who lights up one of these cancer sticks is just asking for trouble. That's why the Surgeon General announced on Tuesday that second-hand smoke in restaurants is posing a public health risk. What's the reasoning on this one? Smoking supposedly curbs the appetite. Somebody needs to tell that to Bubba over there who smokes a pack a day and is pushing 350 pounds! Absurd! What about all this second-hand smoke that's everywhere? If it suppresses the appetite, then we should ALL be skinny people, right?!
5. Medicines that cause weight gain
I do not like taking medicines of ANY kind. Period. That's just me. I'm sure there are wonderful advances in medicine that have helped a whole lot of people get better, but I'm the kind of person who would rather take things naturally to cure my ailments. So the impact of medicines on weight gain is probably a valid point. I shudder to think what people who take handfuls of prescription drugs each day are doing to their bodies. Eeebie jeebies...oooooh!
6. Population changes
People hang on to their weight longer in life. Yeah, so what else is new. That's a sign of affluence in our society, unfortunately, and it reaches across all segments of our population. Additionally, minority groups have been found to add to the obesity statistics in disproportional numbers from Caucasians, especially Hispanics. This still doesn't explain WHY they get obese though.
7. Older birth moms
Is this prevalent in our society? I would think most women who give birth are in their 20's and 30's, but I might be wrong about this. The researchers say the age a woman gives birth to a child, the more that child will weigh throughout his or her life. This is another one I'm not convinced is true. Oh well, I guess since my mom was 60 when she had me that I'll be destined to be fat forever. That's fatalistic to me and takes away the personal responsibility that person has to manage his or her weight. Nope, this one's not good enough in my book.
8. Genetic influences during pregnancy
Do genetics CAUSE obesity? A lot of people seem to think so. I'm not one of them. While your genes and environment can certainly make it more likely you will become obese than not in certain circumstances, those factors can be altered when someone is set upon losing weight and keeping it off. I proved that with my own 180-pound weight loss despite the fact that my entire family is still fat except for my mom who had gastric bypass surgery. Hereditary obesity is an urban legend and anyone who tells you otherwise just wants you to stay overweight or obese forever!
9. Darwinian natural selection
Now this one piqued my interest. The researchers found that fat people actually live longer than skinny people, so there are more big people left around. Huh? Is that right? This doesn't make sense to me since most overweight and obese people have to deal with weight-related diseases and limitations on their quality of life. But maybe I've missed something here. This doesn't make me want to go gaining back my weight again anytime soon...or EVER!
10. Assortative mating
We humans bond with other humans like us. The researchers believe that fat people breeds with other fat people which then creates young fat people who grow up to meet other fat people -- YADDA YADDA YADDA! I can follow this logic to a point, but it totally disregards the fact that many overweight or obese men and women are not desirable enough to thinner members of the opposite sex that they must settle for a larger mate. Ouch, that sounded cruel, didn't it? But am I right? I was fortunate enough to marry a woman who weighed 95 pounds when I weighed 350 pounds back in 1995. Over ten years later, we are now less than 100 pounds from each other's weight. LOL! Christine hates it when I tell people that!
The results of this study were published in the latest issue of The International Journal Of Obesity.
This list is all well and good, but I couldn't help but start thinking of so many more reasons for obesity that were not mentioned on this list. How about sugar consumption (which was probably left off the list because it is tied to diet), an overbearing mother or father, emotional and psychological scars from a traumatic event, and so many other ideas that come to mind? Where do THESE factors fit in to explain why obesity is so prevalent in today's society and why were they left off this list?
By the way, in case you were not aware, Dr. Allison is most famous for his 1999 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that found obesity was responsible for 300,000 deaths which was then subsequently used as the basis for the Center for Disease Control's revised number of 400,000 deaths. Interesting, all of these numbers were later found to be 100% completely bogus.
It seems Dr. Allison has some questionable ties to some heavy players in the weight loss industry, so it makes you wonder what his motive is for putting together a top ten list like this one.
We have a vested interest in seeing the obesity epidemic hyped, do we, Dr. Allison? Hmmmm? Perhaps Dr. Allison is the kind of figure author Eric Oliver is referring to about perpetuating the obesity crisis in his book "Fat Politics." Maybe?
How about you? What do you think of this top ten list Dr. Allison and his "experts" came up with? Do you have any other non-diet and exercise explanations for obesity that you think are obviously missing and are you buying these ones Dr. Allison and his gang of 19 health experts came up with? Share your thoughts by clicking on the comment link below.
You can e-mail Dr. David Allison about his top ten list at DAllison@uab.edu.