The Role of Genes in Obesity

Genes influence every aspect of human development, physiology, and adaptation, and research shows that genetics also play a role in obesity. However, we still know relatively little when it comes to which specific genes contribute to obesity. Nor do we know the importance of the complex interplay between our genetic makeup and our life experiences.

Obesity Word DNA Strand Medical Research Fat HereditaryWhat we do know is that genes do not always predict one’s future health. Genes and behavior probably are both needed for a person to be overweight. In some cases, various genes may increase one’s susceptibility for obesity and require outside factors such as plentiful food supply or not enough physical activity.

It’s well established that overweight and the different forms of obesity are conditions tending to center within a family. A person with a family history has a two to eight times higher risk than a person with no family history of obesity, and even higher risk is observed in cases of severe obesity.

The most common forms of obesity are probably the result of variations within a large number of genes. Sequence variations within a pool of 56 different genes have been reported as being related to obesity; however, only ten of those genes showed positive results in at least five different studies.

Any attempt to explain the obesity epidemic has to consider both genetics and how (the environment) one lives as well. One explanation that is often cited is that the same genes that helped our ancestors survive occasional famines are now being challenged by environments in which food is plentiful year-round.

As of now, genetic tests are not useful for directing personal diet or physical activity regimens. Studies on genetic variation affecting response to changes in diet and physical activity are still at an early stage. It stands to reason that doing a better job of explaining obesity in terms of genes and environmental factors could help encourage people who are trying to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Obesity is a serious public health problem because it is associated with some of the leading causes of death in the U.S. and worldwide, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer, but unfortunately, families can’t change their genes. They can, however, change the family environment to encourage healthier eating habits and more physical activity. Those changes can improve the health of family members and the family health history of the next generation.

If you live in the Las Vegas area and are interested in weight-loss surgery, schedule a consultation at VIP Surg.

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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.

 

Bariatric Surgery: Impacting High Blood Pressure Through More Than Weight Loss

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about one in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure (hypertension). Risks include family history, advancing age, poor diet, consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, and being overweight or obese.

Lifestyle changes are a big part of controlling high blood pressure. The main tenets include:

  • Following a healthy diet, which may include reducing salt. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is often recommended. In addition to lowering salt intake, DASH is replete with fruits, vegetables, and low-fat or nonfat dairy. The diet emphasizes whole grains and is rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium and fiber.
  • Exercising regularly.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Keeping stress levels at bay. (Stress can cause us to engage in unhealthy blood pressure-raising behaviors.)
  • Drinking only moderate amounts of alcohol.
  • Taking your medications as prescribed.

There are many types of prescription medications that can help control blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke. These medications may need to be taken for life to maintain their effect.

New research is showing, however, that bariatric surgery can allow obese people taking a lot of antihypertensive medications to cut way back on them. Study subjects’ blood pressure was maintained in the normal range with only one agent or even without drugs.

Within a year, those in a recent trial who had bariatric surgery were more than six times as likely to have cut back on their number of blood pressure (BP) medications by hypertension-867855__340about a third. Half of the surgical patients didn’t need any antihypertensive meds to maintain their BP at healthy levels. On the other hand, all of the “standard-care” patients in the study needed antihypertensive medications to keep BP that low, and half of them needed at least three different ones.

Interestingly, most patients in the gastric-bypass group achieved the primary end point in the first month of the postop period. That seems to indicate that something more is happening beyond just weight loss.

That something is likely to be related, at least in part, to the metabolic changes in the surgery group compared with the control group, which included significant improvements in fasting plasma glucose, HbA1c, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein in addition to the lowering of blood pressure.

If you live in the Las Vegas area and are wondering if bariatric surgery might be right for you, schedule an appointment at VIP Surg. Dr. Tsuda and his team can help find the right treatment for your unique situation.

 

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.
 

Overcoming Genetics with Bariatric Surgery

Many of us have struggled with our weight. Whether it’s those 30 pounds of baby weight that have stubbornly hung around long after the baby was born or the 50 pounds gained after a back injury, weight gain is for many a constant struggle and a sensitive subject.

However, inactivity and poor diet are not the only causes of obesity. Research estimates that genetics determines at least 40 to 50 percent of our weight. Unfortunately, the specific genes are not well understood.

How can one overcome genetics? If everyone in your family is heavy, isn’t it a foregone conclusion that you will be heavy also? Not necessarily. Fortunately, we can level the genetics playing field with weight-loss surgery.

The most popular weight loss procedure in the United States is the laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy. The surgery is minimally invasive, takes about an hour and requires an overnight stay in the hospital for most patients. The stomach, which regularly can hold about the volume of a football, is stapled and divided so that it is the shape and size of a banana.

Weight loss is achieved because the patient can no longer eat a large volume of food, and calories are proportionately decreased. The pylorus, the muscular valve at the outlet of the stomach, is left intact in this surgery. This also helps patients who have this procedure stay full.

Besides the effects of the procedure on restricting food volume, there is increasing evidence that the mechanisms in the brain that cause hunger are permanently modified by the sleeve gastrectomy. People state that they no longer feel hungry and no longer crave some of the high-calorie foods they used to.

Weight-loss surgery is a powerful tool in the hands of the patient, but it is not an “easyfix.” Sleeve gastrectomy requires commitment to healthy food choices and exercise on the part of the patient. The exciting news is that those struggling with obesity are not doomed to a life of aches and pains, poor health, and a miserable quality of life. There is help, and there is hope.

If you are in the Las Vegas area and are considering bariatric surgery, schedule an appointment with VIP Surg. Dr. Tsuda, Dr. Ryan, and their expert team can help find the right treatment for you.

Overweight Woman is Overjoyed

 

Is Obesity a Disease?

Whether or not obesity should be considered a disease is a matter of debate. In 2013, the American Medical Association, the nation’s largest group of physicians, voted to recognize obesity as a disease. The decision was controversial to say the least.

The decision was meant to improve access to weight loss treatment, reduce the stigma of obesity, and underscore the fact that obesity is not always a matter of self-control. Others argue that calling obesity a disease automatically categorizes a large portion of Americans as “sick,” when they may not be. Instead, critics say obesity should be considered a risk factor for many diseases, but not a disease in and of itself.

Experts on one side of the issue say obesity, like alcoholism, depression, and anxiety, is a disease. There are definite medical patterns: hormone imbalances, neurotransmitter deficiencies, and nutritional exhaustion that all contribute to obesity. Many patients that are obese have underlying medical issues that need to be addressed.

On the other hand, with more than one third of the American population presently classified as obese, it is clear that there are many causes for excessive fat accumulation like genetic issues, too little exercise/physical activity, too much food, inappropriate food selection, eating while watching television, etc. In many cases, obesity is the result of a specific lifestyle which can typically be reversed (at least in the short term) by adopting a different lifestyle.

Obesity increases the risk of developing a number of serious health conditions, including:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Sleep apnea
  • Gallstones
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Infertility or irregular periods

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says people should aim to make long-term changes, such as eating healthy on a regular basis, and boosting daily physical activity. Even small amounts of weight loss — such as 5% to 10% of your total body weight – can have health benefits.

For some, obesity as a disease invalidates the importance of discipline, proper nutrition, and exercise and enables individuals with obesity to escape responsibility. For others, obesity as a disease is a bridge to additional research, coordination of effective treatment, and increased resources for weight loss.

Ultimately, obesity is a complex entity that can have many causes; some are endocrine (like thyroid malfunction or hyperfunctioning of the adrenal gland or Cushing’s syndrome), but often the condition is from a combination of inactivity and overeating. For others, there are genetic factors that produce a tendency to be overweight even with the consumption of what would be for most people an appropriate number of calories. Whether the causes are hormonal, genetic, or reside in the brain is often difficult to determine.

If you’re in the Las Vegas area and looking for treatment for obesity and the life-threatening conditions that often accompany it, schedule an appointment with VIP Surg. Our experts can help you find the right treatment for your unique situation.

Rates of Obesity are on the Rise

The global obesity rate has nearly doubled since 1980, and there are now over 200Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 11.51.03 AM million obese men and nearly 300 million obese women, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. In the United States, more than one third of adults (or 78.6 million people) are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Obesity is usually defined by using a ratio of height to weight called body mass index (BMI), which usually correlates with a person’s level of body fat. According to the CDC, an adult with a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.

At a fundamental level, obesity occurs when people regularly eat more calories than they burn, but actually a number of factors can contribute to obesity, including:

  • lack of physical activity
  • lack of sleep
  • genetics and certain medications that slow calorie burn, increase appetite, or cause water retention, such as corticosteroids, antidepressants, or some seizure medications

Modern culture, conveniences, and other environmental factors also, in part, contribute to obesity. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, environmental factors that promote obesity include:

  • oversized food portions
  • busy work schedules that don’t allow for physical activity
  • lack of access to healthy foods at supermarkets
  • lack of safe places for physical activity

Because friends share similar environments and carry out activities together that may contribute to weight gain, obesity has also been found to “spread” socially among friends according to a 2011 study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Certain health conditions also can lead to weight gain, including:

  • Hypothyroidism — an underactive thyroid gland that slows metabolism and causes fatigue and weakness
  • PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome — which affects up to 10 percent of women of childbearing age and can also lead to excess body hair and reproductive problems
  • Cushing’s syndrome — which stems from an overproduction of the hormone cortisol by the adrenal glands and is characterized by weight gain in the upper body, face and neck
  • Prader-Willi syndrome– a rare condition in which people never feel full, and so they want to eat constantly, according to the Mayo Clinic

Although there are lots of fad diets, such short-term dietary changes are not the best way to maintain a healthy weight, the CDC says. Instead, people should aim to make long-term changes, such as eating healthy on a regular basis, and boosting daily physical activity. Even small amounts of weight loss — such as 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight – can have health benefits, the CDC says.

For people who are still severely obese after attempting to lose weight through diet and exercise, other treatments, such as bariatric surgery, may be an option. Bariatric surgery is recommended for people with a BMI of 40 or more, or if they have a serious health problem related to their obesity and have a BMI of 35 or more. In many cases, people with a BMI of 30 or more are eligible for one type of bariatric surgery if they also have at least one health problem linked with obesity.

If you’re struggling with obesity and live in the Las Vegas area, schedule an appointment with VIP Surg. Our experts can help find the right treatment for you.