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Antibiotics cause obesity – not fast food!

Ok since its Thanksgiving it’s ok to eat too much. But some time you gotta pay the piper.

That’s the case as revealed by the latest survey from the National Institutes of Health about obesity. It shows that obesity is still rising even further and that women now have overtaken men as being most obese. The headline is that obese individuals are around 38% of the US population, that is over one-third (versus around 32% ten years earlier). The good news (?!) is that amongst younger people the increase has leveled off. But Scotty, we still have a problem.

I’ve already posted on this (“Does Meat Cause Obesity?”). My thesis was that meat contains antibiotics that are used to fatten livestock so that food producers get more money at the pump, so to speak. And now producers are slowly starting to move their products towards fewer antibiotics although it’s far from a major trend yet. So that’s a good thing. But my thesis certainly hadn’t been a received wisdom at the time it was published (December 2014).

But even I am amazed that one piece of news hasn’t registered in the mainstream press yet. That’s a study that links weight gain in children with use of antibiotics prescribed by doctors. Doesn’t that seem to provide the missing link with obesity? The study concludes that children given antibiotics gain weight more quickly than those who don’t take them, and their weight gain increases over time.

Maybe the leveling off in obesity in kids has to do with the fact that doctors are now being encouraged to prescribe fewer antibiotics because of the problem of drug resistance. That’s certainly a huge issue. But the continuing rise in obesity seems to suggest that the message hasn’t gotten through to adults who are now getting probably 99% of their antibiotics when they eat meat. So that suggests we’ve still got a long way to go before we cure the obesity epidemic.

This has some far-reaching implications. One is that it isn’t primarily fast food that is causing obesity. I’m not the first to point this out (see the article in the Huffington Post at “Turns Out Junk Food Isn't To Blame For Obesity”). But I haven’t yet seen anyone suggesting that antibiotics are its prime cause. Of course, fast good probably isn’t that good for you, but maybe if you take the antibiotics out of chicken nuggets you wouldn’t have an obesity problem?

How do antibiotics make you fatter? The evidence is still coming in but it is looking more and more likely that they kill off the good bacteria in your gut that digest food less efficiently, as well as doing other good things like regulating your metabolism. That is, by taking antibiotics, you are hurting your own microbiome.

So we seem to be missing something that is staring us in the face; namely that a large part of our food supply is based on meat products which are suffused with antibiotics and growth hormones that are designed to make animals much bigger and that these additives are wreaking their growth effects on us all, humans included.

So the effect of having antibiotics in our meat isn’t simply causing antibiotics resistance – serious indeed though that is – but it’s also making us bigger, fatter and more prone to disease. This includes all the lifestyle and metabolic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and even more terrible things such as Alzheimer’s.

The message is pretty clear. Avoid meat totally unless it is labeled antibiotic-free. Preferably it should also have not used growth hormones either, although that’s a battle that still has to be fought.

If you can get fast food that’s antibiotics free, you’re good to go.

Fast food without guilt: now that’s the definition of heaven on Earth.












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