PureInsight | February 12, 2007
Studies finds that diets high in carbohydrates lead to obesity and diabetes.
Many of you are aware of the dire statistics relating to spiraling
rates of type 2 diabetes in the West. This condition, characterized by
elevated levels of blood sugar, can cause a range of complications
including nerve and kidney damage and eye disease. A stepping stone
between health and type 2 diabetes seems to be the metabolic syndrome.
Excess weight around the middle of the body (abdominal obesity) is a
hallmark of this condition. Other features may include elevated levels
of blood fats, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar levels.
Another feature common to both metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes
is insulin resistance. This is believed to be the result of prolonged
elevation of insulin levels, causing the body to switch off its normal
response to this hormone. One consequence of insulin resistance is
elevated blood sugar levels.
As the incidence of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and type 2
diabetes are all rising, it's not surprising that advice about how to
prevent these conditions abounds. Individuals are often advised to eat
less fat. The theory is that eating fat makes one fat.
The only problem is that eating fat does not cause weight gain In
Itself, and low-fat diets are spectacularly ineffective for weight loss
unless accompanied by overall reduction in caloric.
Insulin is secreted in response to raised levels of sugar in the
bloodstream, and the vast majority of this comes from sugars and
starches in the diet. So, if exaggerated insulin secretion is the
problem, why cut back on fat to fight diabetes?
Wouldn't it make more sense to reduce the intake of foods that cause insulin secretion and insulin resistance?
Research is now starting to pile up which supports this concept. Recent
U.K. research found that higher consumption of carbohydrates (not fat)
is associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome in adults.
A Swedish research study has just been published which looked at the
association between diet, weight, and metabolic syndrome in children.
The diets and lifestyles of 182 four-year-olds was assessed. About 20
of these children were found to be officially overweight or obese.
Malin Haglund Garemo, who performed this study, found that a lot of
girls in the study were already showing signs of metabolic syndrome,
with abdominal obesity and abnormal insulin function.
Children who ate the most fat were the ones least likely to be
overweight. And, those who consumed the most sugar were the ones most
likely to be overweight.
Such results would go against the common perception that fat is the
major culprit in obesity and metabolic syndrome. Rather, more attention
should be paid to reducing Intake of blood sugar- and
insulin-disruptive foods such as bread, rice, pasta, and breakfast
cereals. Common sense and, now, at least some science dictates that it
is these starchy staples, not fat, that are the true culprits in
insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.
1. Willett WC. Dietary fat plays a major role in obesity: Obesity Review. May 2002; 3(2):59-68. Review.
2. Pirozzo S, et al. Advice on low-fat diets for obesity. Cochrane Database System Review. 2002; (2):CD003640
3. Wannamethee SG, et al. Modifiable lifestyle factors and the
metabolic syndrome in older men: effects of lifestyle changes. Journal
of the American Geriatrics Society. 2006; 54(12):1909-14
4. Garemo M H. Nutrition and Health in 4-year-olds in a Swedish
Well-Educated Community. Published by the Swedish Research Council