The Obesity Code | Forward & Introduction

May 31, 2019

 

Click here to see a replay of this Facebook LIVE discussion. 

You Will Learn

  • Who is Dr. Jason Fung and why he is credible.
  • An overview of the Obesity Code and what you can expect from this book review series.  

 

Why I Chose This Book

I took a personality test in college to reveal my top 5 strengths. In order, they were learning, achieving, relating, empathy, and harmony. 

If I had to add another strength, I would say systematic. I understand things so much better when information is presented in a systematic and logical way. It helps build an overall framework in my mind that I can navigate better instead of having various ideas and facts floating around with no concrete way to implement them.  

I can’t help myself, I LOVE to learn, and I love helping other people learn. While I was considering what content I wanted to do for the next two quarters for my Facebook Live Lunch and Learns, I found myself just wanting to read this book instead. I thought, why not invite you along this journey with me! So for the next few months I will be leading a book study during my weekly Facebook Lives, Fridays at 12:30.  

I may not do the book each and every week depending on other events going on but it will be a central theme for a while. Many of my clients report they don’t learn well by reading, so my hope is that I can translate this amazing information into bite-sized pieces and help people achieve lasting weight loss, health, and happiness.  

 

About Dr. Fung, Author of The Obesity Code and The Diabetes Code

Dr. Jason Fung is a medical doctor, nephrologist by trade, who specializes in kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. He acknowledged that traditional medicine wastes time and resources attempting to treat symptoms of disease, rather than the cause of disease.  

You can purchase The Obesity Code book HERE.  

In his forward to the Obesity Code, Timothy Noakes Oms, a physician PhD, and Doctor of science, with a total of 27 letters behind his name, eloquently says this about the Obesity Code. 

“It’s strengths are that it is based on an irrefutable biology, the evidence for which is carefully presented; and it is written with the ease and confidence of a master communicator in an accessible, well-reasoned sequence so that its consecutive chapters systematically develop, layer by layer, an evidence-based biological model of obesity that makes complete sense in its logical simplicity. It includes just enough science to convince the skeptical scientist, but not so much that it confuses those without a background in biology. This feat in itself is a stunning achievement that few science writers ever accomplish.  

By the end of the book, the careful reader will understand exactly the causes of the obesity epidemic, why our attempts to prevent both the obesity and diabetes epidemics were bound to fail, and what, more importantly, are the simple steps that those with a weight problem need to take to reverse their obesity.”  

“He has provided a blueprint for the reversal of the greatest medical epidemics facing modern society - epidemics that he shows are entirely preventable and potentially reversible, but only if we truly understand their biological causes - not just their symptoms.”  

 

Obesity Defined 

Obesity is defined in terms of a person’s body mass index (BMI), calculated as a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of their height in meters.  

A BMI greater than 30 is considered obese.  

BMI is not the best indicator of overall health because it does not take into account body composition. Someone with a lot of muscle may incorrectly be categorized as obese because muscle weighs more than fat.  

A better indicator of health is central obesity, or fat stored around the midsection. For more on that see THIS post.

 

Treating the Symptoms, Not the Cause 

Dr. Fung admits that despite having worked for more than 20 years in medicine, he found that his own nutritional knowledge was “rudimentary at best.” I would argue that most physicians and healthcare professionals would be in this ballpark. 

Treatment of obesity was left to large corporations like Weight Watchers, not exactly evidence-based medicine.  

I think that because most Doctors are not well versed in weight loss and nutrition, they are more comfortable “staying in their lane” and treating symptoms by prescribing medication.  

Advice they give to their patients to treat their excess weight is vague and non-specific. I’ve literally seen handwritten notes on lab reports to “lose weight”, “exercise”, “improve nutrition."  

I’ve also heard that a lack of time and belief in the patient’s ability to follow-through on recommendations leads to prescribing medications instead of addressing the underlying cause of their conditions which is often excess weight that in many cases is related to lifestyle factors like poor nutrition, lack of exercise, bad sleep habits, use of tobacco, and high stress levels.  

Physicians are prescribing pills to lower blood sugar, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and treat kidney disease but all along they need to treat the underlying obesity. Traditional medicine is trying to treat the problems caused by obesity rather than obesity itself.  

 

Vague Opinions About Weight Loss 

In the search to find answers, we come across numerous opinions and theories that pervade the internet. Here are examples Dr. Fung listed: 

  • Dietary fat is bad. No, dietary fat is good. There are good fats and bad fats. 
  • Carbohydrates are bad. No, carbohydrates are good. There are good carbs and bad carbs. 
  • You should eat more meals a day. No, you should eat fewer meals a day.
  • Count your calories. No, calories don’t count. 
  • Milk is good for you. No, milk is bad for you. 
  • Meat is good for you. No, meat is bad for you. 

How confusing is all of this! Even these ideas are too complex for the average person to understand. They are vague, incomplete, and confusing.  

 

Simplistic Theories About Obesity 

Obesity, like all chronic disease, is multifactorial. That means that several factors contribute to the development of the disease. It is not caused by just one thing. Here are just a few:

  • Excess calories cause obesity
  • Excess carbohydrates cause obesity
  • Excess meat consumption causes obesity
  • Excess dietary fat causes obesity
  • Too little exercise causes obesity  

Again, these theories like the opinions listed above are vague. They jump to a conclusion WAY too quickly and fail to approach obesity for what it really is...multifactorial and individualized. Two people may have excess weight and difficulty losing it for completely different reasons.  

 

Overview of the Book 

Dr. Fung was careful to point out that for this book he referenced only studies done on humans, and mostly only those that have been published in high-quality, peer-reviewed journals.  

  • Part 1: “The Epidemic,” explores the timeline of the obesity epidemic and the contribution of the patient’s family history. It highlights the underlying causes of obesity. 
  • Part 2: “The Calorie Deception,” reviews the current caloric theory in depth and highlights the shortcomings of the current understanding of obesity. 
  • Part 3: “A New Model of Obesity,” describes how hormones are involved in the development of obesity. These chapters explain the central role of insulin in regulating body weight and describe the vitally important role of insulin resistance. 
  • Part 4: “The Social Phenomenon of Obesity,” dives into childhood obesity and why obesity is associated with poverty. 
  • Part 5: “What’s Wrong with Our Diet?,” explores the role of fat, protein, and carbohydrates, the three macronutrients, in weight gain. In addition, it examines one of the main culprits in weight gain - fructose - and the effects of artificial sweeteners. 
  • Part 6: “The Solution,” provides guidelines for lasting treatment of obesity by addressing the hormonal imbalance of high blood insulin through proper nutrition, sleep, and stress management.  

 

References 

1. [Foreword]. (2016). In J. Fung, The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss. Vancouver: Greystone Books.  

2. [Introduction]. (2016). In J. Fung (Author), The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss. Vancouver: Greystone Books. 

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