Science of Weight Loss/Obesity

Cardiovascular disease and diabetes (Type 2 diabetes) are two of the biggest reasons to worry about the rate of obesity.

According to the American Diabetes Association, chronic diseases (such as diabetes) are responsible for 70% of U.S. deaths and 70% of U.S. health care costs. Recently, researchers have found more evidence linking diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD) and have concluded that people with diabetes are 2-to-4 times more likely to have CVD and up to 5 times more likely to have a stroke than those who do not have diabetes.

Cardiovascular problems in America lead to over 1000 deaths per day. That's a frightening statistic.

Almost every one of us knows someone with diabetes. Nearly 16 million people in the United States have diabetes, and another 13.4 million people have impaired fasting glucose (sugar) or "pre-diabetes". By 2010, more than 10% of the U.S. population will have diabetes and by 2020, 157 million Americans will be living with a chronic condition, costing $1 trillion to treat these patients.

In developing countries, economical improvement is often associated with a rapid increase in obesity. In fact, the prevalence of obesity in these developing nations often overshoots that which occurs in Western countries. Fortunately, the rate of obesity begins to decrease and this is correlated with a higher education and socioeconomic status. Unfortunately, this means that poorer individuals often continue to become obese and diabetic.

Here is a simplified version of what happens in Type 2 (adult onset) diabetes. Over a lifetime, a diet high in fat and sugar lead to "insulin resistance". If someone eats a lot of sugar, this results in chronically high insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone that signals cells to extract glucose from the bloodstream. Insulin resistance refers to the inability of the cells to extract glucose from the bloodstream even when the insulin signal is very strong.

With a high sugar diet, insulin is released very often and in very high amounts. Therefore, the cells of the body become insensitive to insulin and this leads to a decrease in the uptake of sugar (glucose) by cells of the body. The elevated glucose levels may be detrimental to many tissues in the body.

Fortunately, at any age you can begin to combat diabetes with exercise and a change in body composition. By decreasing body fat and increasing muscle mass, you will have more receptors willing to deal with insulin.

Strength training will also help control blood sugar in diabetics. Thirty-one diabetics (average age = 66) were split into strength-training program or sedentary groups. The results showed that after 16 weeks, the training group had better blood sugar control, likely by increasing the body's uptake of blood sugar.

According to one of the authors, muscle accounts for up to 80% blood sugar uptake. Weight training increases muscle mass and thus the ability to increase sugar disposal. In addition, contractions from any type of exercise result in glucose uptake. Consult your doctor prior to any type of training!

Craig Ballantyne is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and writes for Men's Health, Men's Fitness, Maximum Fitness, Muscle and Fitness Hers, and Oxygen magazines. His trademarked Turbulence Training fat loss workouts have been featured multiple times in Men’s Fitness and Maximum Fitness magazines, and have helped thousands of men and women around the world lose fat, gain muscle, and get lean in less than 45 minutes three times per week. For more information on the Turbulence Training workouts that will help you burn fat without long, slow cardio sessions or fancy equipment, visit

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