By Peter Galvin, MD
The United States is getting bigger – not the land, the people. There is an epidemic of obesity. A recent study done by the Journal of Obesity found that 20% of U.S. adults have gained one-fifth of their body weight over 10 years. Also, women gained nearly twice as much weight as men over the same period, and younger adults gained the most overall, at an average of 17.6 pounds between their 20s and 30s, and up to 45 pounds over a lifetime. The CDC’s statistics show that 41.9% of adults are now obese. This epidemic of obesity can be traced to one thing – our diet. The American diet is now comprised of significant amounts of processed foods, which are mostly carbohydrates. Americans eat some of the unhealthiest food in the world.
So, to counter this trend, what do many Americans decide to do? It’s not change their diet, it’s find a miracle drug to make them lose weight. The latest weight loss craze is semaglutide, known by the brand names Ozempic, Wegovy, and Rybelsus (Novo Nordisk). Also used is a similar drug tirzepatide (Mounjaro – Eli Lilly). Like many medications, these were developed to treat a different condition – type II diabetes. Viagra was originally used as a treatment for hypertension, but it had a surprising and often not unwelcome side effect. Semaglutide is an incretin glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) inhibitor which causes increased insulin secretion and increased blood sugar disposal. Trials showed a side effect was weight loss, often up to 10% of body weight. The weight loss was not caused by any chemical process but merely a side effect – decreased appetite. People who are not hungry tend to eat less.
Last year, after being told he looked thinner, Elon Musk admitted that he was taking Wegovy, which is a higher dose of semaglutide used for weight loss only. He had a gaunt look, a tell-tale sign of semaglutide use, caused by a loss of facial fat. The sudden surge in the use of semaglutide has caused some shortages – Novo Nordisk reported a 59% growth in sales for the first nine months of 2022. The American diet has undergone a startling transition in the last 100 years. Our ancestors lived active lives, often comprised of hard work and labor, and consumed diets overwhelmingly composed of natural, whole foods. Their diets consisted of rich, nutrient-dense animal foods – organ meats, fatty cuts, seafood, dairy, eggs, and fat products such as butter and lard, yet they displayed a health and vitality that eludes all but a lucky few today.
Americans today eat processed foods loaded with added sugars, refined grains, toxic seeds, and vegetable oils (many of which were once thought to be useable only as industrial lubricants), plus a witch’s brew of colorings, flavorings, texturizers, and other additives. British toddlers today consume nearly two thirds of their daily calories from processed food, and American toddlers aren’t far behind at 58%. Many studies have linked diets high in processed foods to a host of ailments and diseases from autism to Alzheimer’s. Plus, processed foods are addictive and are consumed faster than whole foods. If you are considering weight loss, try the healthy Mediterranean diet before you consider taking a magic elixir.
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