How being obese can cause a car crash


Being overweight to the point of obesity is obviously very bad for your health, but there is now an added complication for all road users, not just sufferers. The UK National Obesity Forum’s seventh annual conference took place last Monday and one of the highlights was the problem of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA), as the obesity epidemic increases.

Sleep Apnoea is sometimes regarded as a minor condition with irritating snoring; characterised by disruptive breathing during the night. It occurs when soft tissue in the back of the airway collapses and blocks it, causing interruption in breathing that lasts 10 seconds or more. In its moderate to severe forms, victims can suffer 20 to 30 such episodes per hour all night without realising their sleep is being disturbed. However, new research has now identified it as a fatal disease as at its worst the sufferer can ‘forget’ to breathe during the night with the resulting serious consequences.

We know being overweight is linked to sleep apnoea, but Dr Bertrand de Silva, Medical Director of American Sleep Medicine in California spoke about why it is a problem for road users. Dr de Silva is a world expert in sleep disorders he predicts that only 15% of sufferers have been diagnosed, so despite the dangers, the majority are oblivious that they even have the condition. Because of the disrupted sleep pattern, OSA causes daytime sleepiness and doubles the risk of road accidents

Dr da Silva believes that 25% of UK drivers should wake up to the dangers of being overweight and behind the wheel and his theory is backed up by organisations such as the AA whose Head of Road Safety agrees that the risk of death or serious injury from falling asleep at the wheel is great. Their own research tells them that one in 10 motorists admit to nodding off at the wheel and are in danger of becoming a statistic – one of the up to 3,000 killed or seriously injured each year as a result of falling asleep.

The Risks

Predictive forecasting indicates that by 2050 around 60% of adult men and 50% of adult women could be obese. They will therefore be at risk of OSA and putting themselves, and other road users at risk of an accident.

Being seriously overweight definitely puts you at greater risk of OSA, and that in turn is known to increase the risk of heart conditions by 30%, dramatically increases hypertension, affects 58% of diabetic patient (90% if obese), impacts glucose intolerance and insulin resistance and is the second leading cause of erectile dysfunction.”

If you still need another incentive to lose weight, it could also increase your insurance premiums as the research and scientific evidence grows about the effects of obesity.

Weight gain and increased breast cancer risk

August 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Womens Health


It’s a natural tendency for women to gain weight as they go through menopause and the body lays down fat cells to provide the oestrogen that is lacking from the natural cycle. We know that the highest risk group are women over 50, they comprise around 80 percent of cases, but there are now two new studies that show that a woman’s risk is increased if she is seriously overweight – whatever her age.

Previously it was believed that postmenopausal women were the most at risk but the study by scientists at Geneva University, Switzerland, have shown that it is a woman’s lipid profile and oestradiol levels related to her weight are also determining factors. They found that in their study of women aged 25-80 years old that obese women presented significantly more often with stage III and stage IV cancer and the figures are extraordinary:

** these women were a staggering 180% more likely to have later stage breast cancer than women of normal weight.

** they were also 240% more likely to have tumours that were equal to or greater in size than 1 centimeter

** their chances of having positive lymph nodes were 510% more likely than normal weight women and this suggests cancer may have spread to other parts of their bodies

Not only does obesity clearly increase breast cancer risk, but other research has shown it shortens the time between return of the disease and lowers overall survival rates. In 2007, Italian researchers went presented evidence that a hormone found in fat cells called leptin significantly influences breast cancer development. Leptin is a hormone derived from fat cells that sends messages to the body that it is time to stop eating. Obese people often do not have a clear signal from the leptin receptor and it is this failure that has previously been shown to be involved in the development of breast cancer. Leptin has been found in 86.4% of primary breast tumours. This is because it increases the amount of oestradiol in breast tissue and we know that excess oestrogen is associated with breast cancer.

Normalising leptin function is therefore critical in cancer risk individuals as it is the single most important hormone for controlling our body weight control. Because leptin regulates our thyroid, insulin, growth, and adrenal hormones it is vital for regulating all our metabolic processes.

What can you do?

Anyone with a pattern on consistently overeating will become leptin resistant, which means that leptin is unable to deliver its message to the brain to stop eating. To regulate and redress this you need to first drastically cut out any consumption of processed carbohydrates and focus on a diet of natural whole foods. A good night’s sleep is also important and light interrupts leptin function so make sure your bedroom is really dark and don’t put on lights to go the bathroom but put in a low plug light to show you the way. Exercise in a moderate will help, and so will reducing any stress in your life. My own stress book is now available as an ebook for immediate download at but if you prefer a real paperback I have some copes available, just email me.

If sugar is an addiction for you, then speak to a herbalist and look at some of the herbs like Gymnema sylvestre, and Inula racemosa to help reduce the desire for sweet tasting foods and help bring the taste system back to natural balance.

Successful dieting depends on vitamin D

July 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Fitness & Sport, Vitamins & Supplements


The Endocrine Society reported at their AGM of 12 June that if you are planning on a low calorie diet to get in shape for those summer clothes then you need to have good levels of vitamin D in your body at the start if you want it to succeed.

The study was reported on from a study at the University of Minnesota and although we associate Vitamin D deficiency with obesity, it’s never been clear as to whether low levels of vitamin D causes obesity or the other way around. The study put their test subjects on a diet that provided 750 calories a day less than they actually felt they needed. Most of their people had low levels of vitamin D at the start, but surprisingly even low levels were able to predict how successful the diet would be. The more vitamin D in their blood, then the greater the weight loss – and vice versa.

Probably of more interest before you shimmy into that swimsuit is the fact that higher baseline levels of vitamin D levels also predicted there would be a greater loss of fat from the abdomen – the prime target for most dieters.

Just taking vitamin D as a supplement won’t help you lose weight on its own. Sadly the same advice applies as usual – eat less, exercise more and focus on healthy foods rather than saturated fats and alcohol. Liqueur chocolates are probably the worst combination, so wait until Christmas!

Dieting? Train your tongue for maximum success

January 6, 2009 by  
Filed under Diets, Food & Nutrition

Diets come and go, and are more or less successful, but according to neuroscientists we may be overlooking a vital factor. We tend to focus on calories and exercise and food generally – which are all good things – but a report in Science Daily has added another element. Research has shown that if you are overweight over a long period it gradually numbs the taste sensation to sweet foods. Now that may sound like a good thing, but it means in reality that you eat more sweeter foods to compensate. The scientists have shown that there is a critical link between taste and body weight so knowing that will help if you have a sweet tooth. There are two factors at work: obesity is often accompanied by a failure of the ‘satiety signal’, in other words knowing when you are full and also not recognising that your taste buds have been deadened so you don’t realise how much you are increasing your intake of sweet foods.

Solution? Start with portion control, and use a smaller plate, and monitor your sweet food intake so you can start reducing it.

Penalty in the pay packet for being overweight?

August 31, 2008 by  
Filed under Drugs & Medication, featured, Health

It is often said that where the US leads the UK follows, but a disturbing trend has just hit overweight workers in the state of Alabama. It sometimes seems that the US produces more than its share of fanatics in all areas. I am not a smoker, or in favour of it on health grounds, but I also believe in the right to choose and reports of people having cigarettes struck out of their mouths or being unable to smoke anywhere just don’t sit right with me. There has been moves to curtail health services for people who are overweight, and I understand the logic but the US state of Alabama is taking it to a whole new level. Alabama already charges workers who smoke — and has seen some success in getting them to quit, but now are turning their attention to overweight workers. The state currently ranks second in national obesity rankings partly from a fondness for by deep-fried Southern food favorites and a high consumption of sugary drinks and foods. Currently they get free health insurance as part of their job, but unless they agree to free health screenings to show up health problems, and then adopt measures to improve them, they will have to pay a $25 monthly insurance fee from their salaries.

If the screenings turn up serious problems with blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose or obesity, employees will have a year to see a doctor at no cost, enroll in a wellness program, or take steps on their own to improve their health. If they show progress in a follow-up screening, they won’t be charged. But if they don’t, they must pay.

As we already have a free health service, there isn’t the same incentive to adopt such drastic measures here – but some form of restriction of service for those who persistently abuse their bodies through food, alcohol or drugs is not that unlikely, and is informally in place in some hospitals already.

Oh Really?

August 7, 2008 by  
Filed under Health, Medical Research & Studies

This week’s winner in the ‘how did they get money to research that’ contest comes from a recent study, which appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. I know you are going to struggle to believe this, but apparently watching too much TV is associated with poor health, in particular, lack of weight loss and an increased risk of excess weight/obesity. Oh really? The researchers looked at a group of young adults aged 26-36 and assessed them for waist size, TV viewing time, amount of food and drink consumed during TV viewing, and physical activity levels during leisure time.

I want to help you here, so be aware that if you want to reduce your waistline, then reduce your tv hours first. Apparently, women who watched 3 or more hours a day had an 89% increased risk of severe obesity compared to those watching 1 hour of TV a day or less. Unfairly, it seems to me, men get off more lightly – but that is still no excuse for hanging on to the remote. Men watching 3 or more hours of TV a day were more than twice as likely to have moderate obesity compared to those watching 1 hour of TV a day or less.

You might have thought this would be offset by what people did in their spare time, but it seems not to have been the case. Whether you rollerblade or sit and watch the world go by is not particularly influential when compared to how much tv you watch. There is also the fact that watching tv is also associated with snacking, not generally on carrot and celery sticks, so that could also be a factor. TV turns the mind off, which turns off the mind/body connection and the internal desire to eat healthy food, and someone who watches a lot of television is more likely to be influenced by advertisements, which generally encourage you to eat more of the sweets/crisps/chocolates rather than healthier options.

The hidden factor in childhood obesity

January 11, 2008 by  
Filed under Childrens Health

Childhood, and adult, obesity is a topic of real concern and although much of the emphasis is on diet and exercise there could be a third, hidden, factor. A recent study done in Auckland, New Zealand, has revealed that young children who sleep less than nine hours a night have triple the risk of being overweight and have about 3% more body fat than children who get nine hours or more.

Although duration of sleep changes with the seasons, we sleep more in winter than summer for instance, but the New Zealand findings from a study of 519 seven-year-olds showed a definite link year-round between lack of sleep and obesity. On average, children in the study slept just over 10 hours a night, and those who went to bed after 9 p.m. were likely to sleep less. Again, on average, they had up to 40 minutes less sleep per night than children who went to bed earlier. These children’s weight gain is not because they are up raiding the refrigerator to pile on the pounds, but because the time the body needs for important maintenance processes has been reduced. The study also saw a link between lack of sleep and emotional instability such as mood swings or surliness, and indeed it can be seen in adults who don’t get enough sleep too.