Food News for Late June

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  • This week, Mother Jones reported on a new study that confirms what was previously thought about Bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical found in food packaging and, as a result, in 98 percent of Americans' urine. BPA is thought to be an obesogen — an organic pollutant that leads to obesity through non-caloric pathways. I wrote about BPA and other obesogens last year for The Atlantic and interviewed two prominent researchers who are concerned about these toxins and their effects on our health. These studies provide more evidence that the idea of "calories in, calories out" is faulty in our current food environment. As Robert H. Lustig, a pediatric neuroendocrinologist and a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco said in my article:

"I don't believe in the energy balance model, which is calorie-centric," he says. "I believe in the fat deposition model, which is insulin-centric. The reason is that by altering insulin dynamics, you can alter both caloric consumption and physical activity behavior. This has been my research for the past 16 years." What Lustig means is that by increasing circulating insulin -- often as a result of consuming too much fructose -- people become hungrier and more fatigued, which results in overeating and little motivation to exercise.

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  • In another study reported last week, researchers found that too much sugar can damage the heart. "When the heart muscle is already stressed from high blood pressure or other diseases, and then takes in too much glucose, it adds insult to injury," one of the researchers said.
  • The American Medical Association said it would recognize obesity as a disease. I am not so sure this is a good move since it will allow pharmaceutical companies to capitalize on the new classification and treat obesity with drugs rather than lifestyle and diet modifications. The Times reports, "And it could help improve reimbursement for obesity drugs, surgery and counseling." If counseling means sound nutrition and lifestyle advice that could be promising but chances are doctors will recommend surgery and drugs before counseling. "Two new obesity drugs — Qsymia from Vivus, and Belviq from Arena Pharmaceuticals and Eisai — have entered the market in the last year," according to the Times. My tweet from last week sums up my take:

https://twitter.com/kristinwartman/status/347555957984866305