Obesity news and vegetarian chicken

obesewomen“Obesity killing more people than we thought”

One might add “Duh!”  Researchers clearly haven’t been thinking too hard about that until now.  Past reports claimed obesity wasn’t that big a deal, because overweight people maintained a pulse about as long as normal weight people.  The assumption being that having a pulse equaled health.  But this new study shows that obesity-caused deaths are at least 3 times as high as estimated.   One researcher thinks obesity will soon cause life expectancy to drop.

Every dark cloud has its silver lining, and this silver lining is all about drug company profits.  As obesity creates more chronic disease, leading to more chronic drug dependency, leading to more drug interaction complications and even more drugs to combat the side effects, drug companies stand to sell more and more products to a captive audience, who depend on those drugs every single day.

What the heck is vegetarian chicken?

Millions of people will be heading to the local farmer’s market this weekend, and some may see signs for “vegetarian chicken”?  What is that?

Don’t confuse it with vegetarian “chik’n” or some other variation on processed soy-based meat alternatives, doctored up with additives to resemble real meat, sort of.  Vegetarian chicken is meat, from chickens that were raised on vegetarian feed.  Surprisingly, some livestock gets commercial feed made from animal processing by-products, a polite term for trimmings and waste.  So vegetarian chickens (or pigs or any other animal) would eat only feed that is made from plant sources.  However, that doesn’t necessarily mean any of the following:

  • organic
  • free range
  • soy or corn-free feed

Who would want vegetarian chicken?  Not vegetarians of course.  But perhaps meat-eaters who think a vegetarian diet makes for more flavorful or pure chickens, or eggs, which can come from vegetarian chickens, and are eaten by human vegetarians.

Breastfeeding and obesity, again

Yet another study, this one from Japan, links breastfeeding at 6 months to a 15% lower risk for childhood obesity at age 8.  While the authors admit this doesn’t prove any causation, they clearly believe there’s some link.  The researchers did try to control for some factors like smoking and mother’s education level, but there are two other extremely important factors that would definitely affect childhood obesity:

  1. parents’ interest in healthy lifestyle, which is definitely linked to decision to breastfeed and dedication to continuing breastfeeding to 6 months and beyond.
  2. parents’ ability to foster a lifestyle that permits the mother to breastfeed for 6 months.  This means whether the mother is working or not, whether the baby goes to day care, whether the mother has access to a breast pump if she is working, and whether she is sufficiently motivated to deal with the many day-to-day complications of working while pumping breastmilk and/or getting up at night to nurse a baby.

Education has nothing to do with this.  It’s all about sheer dedication, based on the belief that breastfeeding is worth the effort, for the baby’s health and welfare.

It’s unlikely that breast milk itself contains some magical ingredient that prevents obesity.  What’s most likely is:

  • a family that organizes around prolonged breastfeeding is a family that values healthy choices, and makes those a priority.
  • a baby fed entirely, or mostly, breast milk is unlikely to over eat in infancy, and there may be some effect of overeating that drives fat cell growth and metabolism later in life.  Or breastfeeding may teach the infant how to self-regulate appetite and avoid overeating later in life.

Whether breastfeeding prevents childhood obesity or is just a marker for a family with a healthy lifestyle, it’s still the best feeding choice for infants.

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