|Image 1: You may think it's ugly because it is not comply with the current beauty ideal, but this small quantity of subcutaneous is probably rather a sign for high insulin sensitivity, than resistance.|
Obesity and insulin resistance, chicken, egg or just a huge misunderstanding?
To answer these and many related questions we will first have to look at the context in which both develop: The affluent western convenience society, with its sedentary fast-food munching, coke-guzzling citizens. Yet while I suppose that we (and all experts) the culprit lies somewhere within one of the attributes to "citizens", there are huge differences at least with regard to what different individuals identify as the main culprit.
- There are the friends of mathematics, who have no clue of either physics or the physiology of the human body, who will say that the underlying problem lies with the first attribute, i.e. lack of exercise, or more precisely, a positive "energy balance"
- The second group of "experts", believe that all the fatty grease from the burgers and french fries would be paving its way from our intestines outwards to our bellies (well, sort of ;-), recommend a healthy low-to-no fat diet as the one size-fits it all solution to insulin resistance and obesity and apparently believe that this will also cure heart disease, prevent cancer and diabetes - you know the whole litany
- Thirdly, there are the low-to-no-carbers who believe in the doctrine of Dr. Atkins and thusly hold the firm believe that the third attribute (as well as the buns of the burgers and the fries, themselves, obviously), i.e. the overconsumption of carbohydrates in general and high fructose corn syrup in particular is to blame for the current misery.
Hey body, are you waiting for the great famine?
|Image 2: These kids are obviously |
preparing for the big famine.
Now, even we assume that the aforementioned cover models were not only anorexic, but also stupid enough not to slaughter and cannibalize us before they starve (I guess the low fat fraction and the vegans among them would chose the latter ;-), the fattest among us will probably still be the first, not the last to die.
Did you really tell me not to eat that pie, body? Am I just a glutenous slob?
While it may be correct that we are evolutionary designed to store energy in the form of body fat (not calories, cf. "1lbs of fat does not equal 3500kcal"), our "our body knows best"-glasses allow us to see that our fat tissue is well aware of its own limitations and uses a broad range of adipokines, most prominently leptin, to inform the brain and the other organs about its current filling level. Now, the infamous "free will", a purported privilege of the glorious human race, would obviously allow us to ignore the clamor that is coming from our hips, bellies and buttocks, and at least in the "just a little chubby"-stage of the process this may in fact be part of the reason - "Ah, granny, I am full, but that delicious last piece cake will still fit in!"
After years on granny's delicious cakes, and another 50lbs of pure fat on our hips and amidst our organs, our "free will" is yet going to be the least of our problems. Now that our adipose tissue is crying at the same decibel level as the engines of one of those Airbus A380 mega jumbos and our brains (I am talking about their "unconscious" part here) are long deaf, it is almost too late to make better use of our "free will" and finally refuse yet another piece of one of granny's oh-so-delicious pies.
I am fat! How can I be hungry and still gain, not lose weight?
If you are interested in the prequel of this story, which - as it has become increasingly fashionable ever since the release of the "first" three part of the Star Wars saga - will reveal why and how many of us betray the force... ah, pardon the regulatory mechanisms of our bodies, you will have to wait for the next installment of this series. So make sure you stay tuned during the 7-days science break ;-)