Friday, September 2, 2011

Why did I get fat so young?

For a long time I've been curious about why I have always seemed to struggle with weight. My mother swears she fed me just like her other kids and that many of my friends ate more than me and a worse diet than me (worse meaning more sweets, cakes etc.). It shaped my whole childhood and much of my adulthood so as I've been on this journey over the last 8 months it's become increasingly important for me to understand why I struggled the way I did and still do.

There are a couple of theories I've bumped into the latest of which was actually elucidated by Dr Kruse, of Leptin Reset fame when I posted the question on his blog and again on the Leptin Reset thread on Mark's Daily Apple (MDA). I don't have any papers to refer to for this first hypothesis but you can find a long list of cites on Dr K's blog entry at the bottom. The second one can be found in many mainstream publications like WebMD and I have included some links to the abstracts of some studies (Google Scholar is my friend).
  1. Our epigenetic switches are set by the initial burst of Leptin provided by our mother via Colostrum. So when a baby is formula fed this initial set point may not be optimal. Here is a quote from Dr K's blog regarding that point (

    "Leptin is made from our fat cells but we are not born with leptin from our own fat. We initially get leptin from our mother’s colostrum from breast feeding. This initial bolus of leptin then immediately goes to our hypothalamus to “set” the leptin receptors and our epigenetic switches, neurologic wiring controlling appetite and feeding, neurotransmitters and peptides that all control energy balance. I view this like placing a USB drive into your new laptop with a new driver in it to tell the computer how to use the new hardware you want install"

    Here is a response to a comment from Dr Kruse on his blog (

    "@Claudia you are correct. If the child is not breast fed and does not get leptin then the foods fed to the child will determine how their switches are set for the first six years of their existence. This has huge implications because the child’s gut also is playing a role here. It’s gut micro biome is determined by how it enters the world. We are designed to enter the world via the vagina. That passage gives us the inoculum of bacteria to start the gut micro biome and microfilms off to a good start. If the child comes via a c section the gut will be compromised. The child’s food furthernwill determine what kind of biome develops. If that includes infant formula loaded with HFCs and soy and gluten……well your life is not off to a good start. I think for women who realize these issues are big they can plan with ahead with stored human colostrum and post natal probiotics and a diet that emulates mothers milk which is very high in MCT and LCT fats and protein. Women who are leptin resistant or have IR (pcos) will be the moms most at risk for these issues and the risks are larger if them pregnant mom wasmlarge for gestational age and worse if grand mom had gestational diabetes. These all are bad epigenetic signs that foretell how the fetus will part ion it’s calories as it ages"
  2. Removal of Tonsils results in higher obesity rates - This one has been studied at least in an observational study looking for correlations and they indeed found them. In fact, children who had their tonsils removed seem to show a fairly significantly increased chance of become obese. I'm not a fan of this kind of study or I should say I am not a fan of drawing any conclusions from this study. That would be skipping a few steps of the scientific method, however, it does give us an interesting place to look. The last couple of links reference the papers themselves, the full text is behind a pay wall, but you can read the abstract.

    As I said, these studies prove nothing, they show a correlation but the researchers couldn't possibly eliminate all the confounding variables so take them with a grain of salt.

    I have found a few ideas to explain this phenomenon although I don't seem to be able to find the links right now. I don't find any of them very satisfactory, but the first one does have some appeal:

    a) Hyperactivity

    When the tonsils are enlarged a child will suffer from a form of sleep apnea resulting in fatigue which leads to hyperactivity. Apparently fatigue and hyperactivity are commonly linked in children and this is not controversial, seems odd, but okay. With the removal of the tonsils and the improvement in sleep the child becomes less hyperactive which results in less fidgeting which leads to less energy expenditure meaning the same calorie intake will cause weight gain.

    This make some sense. Dr Lustig (of You Tube Sugar fame) talks about how in his practice when he sees a fidgeting child he knows they are not at a high risk of obesity.

    There are also various studies linking the removal of Tonsils to an improvement in ADHD in children.

    b) Mothers are Stupid

    After removal of the tonsils the mother over feeds the child resulting in obesity. Give me a break. Seriously. This is just idiotic. Mothers, driven by maternal instincts will deliberately cause their child to become obese by overfeeding them over a long period of time because they went into hospital for a short, very minor operation. Really? Who spouts this garbage? This smacks of the typical "everyone else is stupid" theory that are pushed by second-rate doctors and researchers. It's more like these mothers with their sharpened maternal instincts will do the opposite, they will worry about the food they are feeding their child not wanting them to experience the lifetime of pain that is associated with being overweight. I get mad every time I see something like this.
Honestly, I'm not saying I believe this is 100% the answer, but it's very interesting nonetheless and gratifying to see some potential pieces of the puzzle falling into place.

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