The Sugar/Obesity Connection

In ancient times, sugar was regarded not as something to be avoided but rather as a cure-all for anything that ailed you. In every culture, sweetness has a symbolism related to goodness. It was valued so highly partly because it was so rare, obtainable mostly in tiny quantities as honey. Now, we demonize it, and yet we can’t seem to stop gorging on it. Few plants have caused more human misery than sugar cane — through obesity, tooth decay, and Type 2 diabetes. Yet despite everything we now know about the harm caused by sugar and other modern sweeteners, such as high-fructose corn syrup, it never stops being something we seem to delight in.

There’s no doubt that sugar adds to the prevalence of obesity in America. Therefore, every food product that includes sugar may be contributing to the scope and costs of the obesity epidemic, accelerating the volume of premature deaths among millions of people in the United States.

Obesity and overweight rates have steadily grown. Type 2 diabetes, once unheard of among kids or even young adults, now is an increasingly common diagnosis among children. Obesity and obesity-related diseases have become the world’s leading killer.

Fortunately, sugar affects all of us differently, and for many people it is neither addictive or deadly. Just like many other substances that carry inherent risk, sugar can be safely used in moderation by most people without wreaking havoc on their lives or contributing to their premature deaths.

While calories from any food have the potential to increase the risk of obesity and other cardiometabolic diseases, nutrition researchers agree that sugar-sweetened beverages play a unique role in chronic health problems. The disease risk increases even when the beverages are consumed within diets that do not result in weight gain.

Doctors have long suspected sugar is not simply a source of excess calories but a fundamental cause of obesity and type 2 diabetes. But until recently, fat consumption and total energy balance have dominated the debate about obesity and the nature of a healthy diet.

Official estimates are that one in 11 people in the United States has diabetes, and latest diabetes-1724617__340estimates suggest that obesity and diabetes may now cost the US healthcare system as much as 1 billion dollars per day. In 2016, World Health Organization (WHO) director general Margaret Chan described the twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes worldwide as a “slow-motion disaster” — and suggested that the likelihood of preventing the current “bad situation” from getting “much worse” was “virtually zero.”

The past decade has seen a renewed interest in the possibility that calorific sweeteners — particularly sugar and high fructose syrups — have major roles in causing obesity and diabetes, and major public health organizations are now recommending strict limits to the consumption of these sugars. Much of the current discussion about sugar focuses on the effects of excess energy intake and weight gain, and the subsequent risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and some forms of dementia. But while being overweight or obese increases your risk of these diseases, excess weight is not a prerequisite.

While the development of diseases is no doubt also based on genes and lifestyle factors other than diet, the evidence of the potential harms of high-sugar diets is accumulating. It’s certainly compelling enough for many to consider limiting how much sugar we eat and drink. Whether or not the sugar itself is the culprit, sugary foods are linked to health problems, and that should be reason enough to cut down.

If you’re looking for ways to treat severe obesity, schedule an appointment with VIPSurg. Drs. Tsuda and Ryan and their team of experts can help find the right treatment for you.

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High Blood Pressure AKA Hypertension: What You Need to Know

High blood pressure (aka hypertension) is dangerous because it makes the heart work too hard and contributes to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). It increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, which are the first- and third-leading causes of death among Americans. High blood pressure also can result in other conditions such as congestive heart failure, kidney disease, and blindness. About two-thirds of people over age 65 have high blood pressure. 

If you have high blood pressure, you and your health care provider need to work together as a team to reduce it. The two of you need to agree on goals and make a plan and timetable for reaching your goals. 

Blood pressure is usually measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and is recorded blood pressureas two numbers—systolic pressure (as the heart beats) “over” diastolic pressure (as the heart relaxes between beats)—for example, 130/80 mmHg. Monitoring your blood pressure at home between visits to your doctor can be helpful. 

Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing high blood pressure. In fact, your blood pressure rises as your body weight increases. Losing even 10 pounds can lower your blood pressure—and losing weight has the biggest effect on those who are overweight and already have hypertension.

Being physically active is one of the most important things you can do to prevent or control high blood pressure. All you need is 30 minutes of moderate-level physical activity on most days of the week. Examples of such activities are brisk walking, bicycling, raking leaves, and gardening. You can even divide the 30 minutes into shorter periods of at least 10 minutes each. 

What you eat affects your chances of getting high blood pressure. A healthy eating plan can both reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure and lower a blood pressure that is already too high. For an overall eating plan, consider the DASH diet, which stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.” You can reduce your blood pressure by eating foods that are low in saturated fat, total fat, and cholesterol, and high in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods. The DASH eating plan includes whole grains, poultry, fish, and nuts, and has low amounts of fats, red meats, sweets, and sugared beverages. It is also high in potassium, calcium, and magnesium, as well as protein and fiber. Eating foods lower in salt and sodium also can reduce blood pressure.

If you have high blood pressure, unfortunately the lifestyle habits noted above may not be enough to lower your blood pressure to a healthy level. In addition to eating healthy and staying active, you may need to take medication. There are many drugs available to lower blood pressure. They work in various ways. Often patients need to use two or more drugs to bring their blood pressure down enough to be healthy.

If you are suffering from obesity, and diet and exercise alone aren’t working to lower your weight, schedule an appointment at VIPSurg. Our experts can help you find a treatment to fits your unique situation. Call (702) 487-6000 to schedule an appointment.

Metabolic Syndrome: Risks and Prevention

Once known in the medical community as “syndrome X” or “insulin resistance syndrome”, metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels — that occur together, increasing one’s risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Although it sounds mysterious, Syndrome X is very common.

As is true with many medical conditions, genetics and the environment both play important roles in the development of metabolic syndrome. Genetic factors influence each individual component of the syndrome and the syndrome itself. A family history that includes type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and early heart disease greatly increases the chance that an individual will develop metabolic syndrome. On the other hand, environmental issues such as low activity level, sedentary lifestyle, and progressive weight gain also contribute significantly to the risk of developing metabolic syndrome.

The following factors increase your chances of having metabolic syndrome:

  • Age — Your risk of metabolic syndrome increases with age.
  • Race — In the United States, Mexican-Americans appear to be at the greatest risk of developing metabolic syndrome.
  • Obesity — Carrying too much weight, especially in your abdomen, increases your risk of metabolic syndrome.
  • Diabetes — You’re more likely to have metabolic syndrome if you had diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) or if you have a family history of type 2 diabetes.
  • Other diseases — Your risk of metabolic syndrome is higher if you’ve ever had cardiovascular disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, or polycystic ovary syndrome.

The good news is that with changes to diet and exercise, you can prevent, control, or even reverse metabolic syndrome. If you don’t, you could develop significant health risks related to diabetes, heart disease, and stroke as part of the condition. Because your risk for metabolic syndrome increases with age, it’s important to start adjusting your health habits early on.

If you are diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, aggressive lifestyle changes will likely be the prescription. While medication is often necessary for those with this diagnosis, changes in diet and exercise can delay or even prevent the development of serious health problems related to metabolic syndrome. 

If you are looking for treatment for severe obesity and the life-threatening conditions that often accompany it, schedule an appointment at VIPSurg. Our expert team can help find the right treatment for you. 

metabolic syndrome

Stats Don’t Lie: Learn How Bariatric Surgery is Helping Hundreds of Thousands of People Regain Their Health

In the early nineties, fewer than twenty thousand bariatric surgeries were performed in the U.S. each year. Now the number is around two hundred thousand. Only in the past few years has what was once considered a high-risk and extreme measure been transformed into a relatively standard, safe, and straightforward one. There is strong consensus that bariatric surgery is effective, and Medicaid now covers it in forty-eight states. 

Research into conventional weight-loss methods has repeatedly pointed to an overwhelmingly dispiriting conclusion—that diet and exercise alone, no matter how disciplined the individual, fail all too often. Still, only about one per cent of those who medically qualify for bariatric surgery get it. 

Over the centuries, suggested strategies for losing weight have included bitter tonics, bleeding, sea air, amphetamines, Turkish baths, tapeworms, purgatives, low-fat diets, high-fat diets, cinnamon, more sleep, less sleep, and the “vigorous massage of the body with pea-flour.” Surgery is an old idea, too. One of the earliest surgical approaches to weight loss, dating back at least a millennium, was simple: the jaw was wired mostly shut. Another story from pre-anesthesia days tells of a rabbi “being given a sleeping potion and taken into a marble chamber, where his abdomen was opened, and many baskets of fat were removed.”

But the health risks associated with obesity have become apparent—higher rates of stroke and heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, infertility, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, and an increased risk of certain cancers. In addition, bariatric procedures have improved dramatically. 

Robotic surgery and laparoscopy, which became the norm in the past decade, result in fewer complications like hernias. Physicians now have a better sense of how to prevent and treat the complications of surgery. 

As recently as seventeen years ago, there was a one-per-cent chance of dying from a bariatric procedure—a relatively high risk. Now it is 0.15 percent, which is less than that for a knee replacement, a procedure commonly recommended to people who have developed joint problems from carrying around excessive weight.

Around seventy-five per cent of bariatric patients have sustained weight loss five years after their surgery, and that percentage is higher if you don’t include lap-band patients in the analysis. Weight loss through diet and exercise rarely leads to more than short-term changes—a quite small percentage of patients see sustained weight loss. 

Today, obesity is second only to tobacco as a killer in this country. If you live in the Las Vegas area and are seeking long-term weight loss and health benefits, schedule an appointment at VIPSurg. We will help you find the best treatment for your unique situation.

Doctor examining  patient obesity on light background

What is Metabolic Syndrome

Nearly 35% of all U.S. adults and an astounding 50% of those 60 years of age or older are estimated to have a syndrome that makes them twice as likely to develop heart disease and 5 times as likely to develop diabetes as someone who doesn’t have this syndrome. The disorder is called metabolic syndrome, and it involves a group of 5 risk factors that increase the risks of developing several potentially deadly conditions.

What is metabolic syndrome?

It’s a group of risk factors that increases the likelihood of developing heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. The 5 risk factors are:

  • increased blood pressure
  • high blood sugar levels
  • excess fat around the waist
  • high triglyceride levels
  • low levels of good cholesterol, or HDL

Having one of these risk factors alone doesn’t mean one has metabolic syndrome. However, having just one does increase the chances of developing cardiovascular disease. Having three or more of these factors is considered as having metabolic syndrome.

What are the risk factors for metabolic syndrome?

The risk factors are related mostly to obesity. The two most important risk factors are defined by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute as:

  • excess fat around the middle and upper parts of the body
  • insulin resistance, which makes it difficult for the body to use sugar

Other factors that can increase risk for metabolic syndrome include:

  • age
  • family history of metabolic syndrome
  • not getting enough exercise
  • women with polycystic ovary syndrome

What are the complications of metabolic syndrome?

Complications that can result from metabolic syndrome are often grave and chronic. Obesity concept in x-rayThey include:

  • hardening of the arteries
  • diabetes
  • heart attack
  • kidney disease
  • stroke
  • nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
  • peripheral artery disease
  • cardiovascular disease

If diabetes develops, additional health complications may result including:

  • eye damage
  • nerve damage
  • kidney disease
  • amputation of limbs

How is metabolic syndrome treated?

If you are diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, your doctor will probably recommend lifestyle changes that may include losing between 7-10% of your current weight and getting at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense exercise five to seven days a week. They may also suggest that you quit smoking.

Your doctor may prescribe medications to help reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack.

What is the outlook for patients with metabolic syndrome?

People who take their doctor’s advice and lose weight will reduce their chances of developing serious health problems such as heart attack or stroke. However, for many who are obese and haven’t been successful with diet changes and exercising, more intensive treatment like bariatric surgery might be needed.

If you live in the Las Vegas area and are considering bariatric surgery, schedule a consultation at VIPSurg. Our doctors and team of experts can help find the right treatment for you.

 

Sugary Beverages and Their Role in Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome

These days, soft drinks are the beverage of choice for millions of Americans and others around the world. Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), which include soft drinks, fruit drinks, iced tea, and energy and vitamin water drinks has risen across the globe. In addition to the obvious drawback of weight gain, higher consumption of SSBs is associated with the development of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

In the U.S. between the late 1970s and 2006, the per capita consumption of SSBs increased from 64.4 to 141.7 kcal/day, representing more than a twofold increase. Of particular concern is the rapid trajectory of increase evident in many developing countries where access to SSBs has grown right along with rising rates of urbanization. Sales figures from Coca Cola’s 2007 annual report show that during 2007, India and China experienced growths of 14 and 18%, respectively, in the volume of beverages sold, showing substantial increases in sales at the population level.

According to the World Health Association (WHO), metabolic syndrome and diabetes are responsible for 19 million deaths each year. Knowing that sugar consumption is associated with these conditions, the public should take steps to reduce their intake.

People who regularly consume 1 to 2 cans or more of sugary drinks per day have a 26% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people who rarely have such drinks.

A study that followed 40,000 men for two decades found that those who averaged one can of a sugary beverage per day had a 20% higher risk of having a heart attack or dying from a heart attack than men who rarely consumed sugary drinks. A related study in women found a similar sugary beverage–heart disease link.

People who drink a lot of sugary drinks often tend to weigh more and perhaps eat less healthfully than people who don’t drink sugary drinks. However, studies show that having an otherwise healthy diet or being at a healthy weight only slightly lessens the risks associated with drinking SSBs.

Because SSBs are often consumed in large amounts and tend to raise blood glucose and soda and computer and phoneinsulin concentrations rapidly and dramatically, they have been shown to contribute to a high dietary glycemic load. High glycemic load diets induce glucose intolerance and insulin resistance particularly among overweight individuals and can increase levels of inflammatory biomarkers such as C-reactive protein, which are linked to type 2 diabetes risk.

The exact amount of sugar intake that increases the risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome is still unknown at this point. Nevertheless, medical experts agree that consuming large amounts of sugar poses a health threat. But how much sugar intake per day is considered too much? The WHO recommends no more than 9 teaspoons per day for men and 6 teaspoons per day for women.

The message is to be careful about the amounts of sugar-sweetened beverages you drink, and be mindful of sugar content. Prolonged intake of high amounts of sugar can contribute to metabolic syndrome onset with time. Lowering sugar-sweetened beverage and sugar intake should form part of a multi-pronged approach to living a healthy lifestyle which includes increased exercise, a balanced diet, and lower stress levels.

If you are in the Las Vegas area and are suffering from the problems associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome, call VIP Surg at 702-487-6000. Dr. Tsuda and his team can team of experts can help.

 

Metabolic Syndrome: The New Silent Killer

For decades, American waistlines have been expanding, and there is increasing cause for alarm. Experts are saying metabolic syndrome is the new “silent killer,” like hypertension in the 1970s. As it turns out, the “love handle” can be fatal.

What is Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke. The term “metabolic” refers to the biochemical processes involved in the body’s normal functioning. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of metabolic disorders. When a patient presents with these conditions together, the chances for future cardiovascular disease is greater than any one factor presenting alone.

What are Metabolic Risk Factors?

Risk factors are traits, conditions, or habits that increase one’s chance of developing a disease. The five conditions described below are metabolic risk factors. You can have any one of these risk factors by itself, but they tend to occur together. You must have at least three metabolic risk factors to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.

  • A large waistline. This also is called abdominal obesity or “having an apple shape.” Screen Shot 2017-10-24 at 11.41.55 AMExcess fat in the stomach area is a greater risk factor for heart disease than excess fat in other parts of the body, such as on the hips.
  • A high triglyceride level (or you’re on medicine to treat high triglycerides).
  • A low HDL cholesterol level (or you’re on medicine to treat low HDL cholesterol).
  • High blood pressure (or you’re on medicine to treat high blood pressure).
  • High fasting blood sugar (or you’re on medicine to treat high blood sugar).

Your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke increases with the number of metabolic risk factors you have. The risk of having metabolic syndrome is closely linked to overweight and obesity and a lack of physical activity.

Insulin resistance also may increase your risk for metabolic syndrome. Genetics (ethnicity and family history) and older age are other factors that may play a role in causing metabolic syndrome.

Can Metabolic Syndrome be Treated?

Metabolic syndrome is becoming more common due to a rise in obesity rates among adults, but it is possible to prevent or delay metabolic syndrome, mainly with lifestyle changes. A healthy lifestyle is a lifelong commitment. Successfully controlling metabolic syndrome requires long-term effort and teamwork with your health care providers.

When changes in lifestyle alone do not control the conditions related to metabolic syndrome, your health practitioner may prescribe medications to control blood pressure, cholesterol, and other symptoms. Carefully following your practitioner’s instructions can help prevent many of the long-term effects of metabolic syndrome. Every step counts, and your hard work and attention to these areas will make a difference in your health.

If you live in the Las Vegas area and are looking for answers to obesity and metabolic syndrome problems, schedule a consultation with VIP Surg. Dr. Tsuda and Dr. Ryan and their team of experts can help find the right treatment for you.