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Addressing the Real Root Causes of the Obesity Epidemic

From adrenal fatigue to hormonal changes, many underlying issues fueling obesity are not addressed, and may be aided with dietary supplements.

With the increase in available technology, research and information, one might think there would be no need to discuss an obesity epidemic. In fact, obesity is now the No. 1 global health crisis, recently overtaking hunger. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), overweight and obesity are linked to more deaths worldwide than underweight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in America, more than 68 percent of adults are overweight and over 36.5 percent are obese. If these statistics aren’t frightening enough, consider that the that top three causes of death in America—cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer and diabetes—are all linked “heavily” to being overweight. Moreover, the annual medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight, noted CDC.

How did this happen? Most health care experts focus on two areas when trying to help people lose weight: diet and exercise. On paper, just focusing on calories consumed versus calories burned makes sense. The number of obese and severely obese people has grown steadily since the late ’70s. Going low-fat, eating out more and increased sugar consumption tied with a sedentary lifestyle are all valid reasons for this explosion. However, there are many other situations and conditions that play a role in why Americans are getting fat and staying that way. Some examples include:

• Why is the person on a 1,200-calorie diet doing 45 minutes of daily aerobic exercise not losing weight?

• Why did a woman gain more than 100 pounds shortly after her divorce?

• Or the gentleman who gained 130 pounds in the seven months following the death of his mother?

• What about the woman who gained 75 pounds following her bad auto accident?

These are all real people with real stories that modern medicine struggles to understand or help. Although traditional thinking focuses on calories burned vs. calories consumed, other areas are impacting the obesity epidemic.

Some of the “outside the box” reasons people may pack on the pounds are:


Food addiction is a real thing. Modern medicine has even proven sugar impacts the same area of the brain as do drugs such as cocaine. Carb addicts likely experienced symptoms similar to drug withdrawal if they ever attempted to go carb-free or low-carb. It can start with feeling achy, suffering from headaches or depression and more. People in this category should get into a counseling program with someone who deals with addiction or consider hypnotherapy.


Everyone has heard about comfort foods and emotional eating, yet it is not common to address these deep-seated issues in many weight loss programs. Getting counseling and using certain supplements that impact the adrenal system and sugar cravings can go a long way in assisting someone in this area.

Body Trauma

This one may sound strange, but it is a reality. There seems to be a subconscious link to putting on fat (a sort of protective barrier) to protect the body from future harm. It’s imperative to dig to the root of the trauma and injury and work at getting it fixed. Other modalities of healing can also be beneficial, such as healing touch, acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy and supplementation to help “heal” the body from the damage of physical trauma.

Hormonal Changes

Ask any Baby Boomer how they noticed their body change after going thru menopause or andropause for quick confirmation that this is a reality. Pregnant women and those dealing with hormone imbalance issues pre-menopause can also relate. Outside of the sex hormones, there are an abundance of other hormones—primarily insulin—that play a role in this area, too. Getting to the root of why the hormones are out of balance is critical. Those affected should work on supporting the body’s hormone levels and the process of change. Traditional Chinese Medicine can be helpful in assist the body through both menopause and andropause. Consuming less processed foods and animal proteins can be helpful as well. Supplements can play a large role in fixing most hormone imbalances related to weight gain.

Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue is usually caused by prolonged periods of stress/anxiety, drug use (illegal and legal), supplements (such as guarana, kola nut, and caffeine), tobacco, etc. Adrenal fatigue leads to insulin resistance, cravings, sex hormone imbalances and so much more. The supplements mentioned above are often used in weight loss products and not only contribute to adrenal fatigue, but eventually slow down a person’s metabolic rate. Getting the adrenals back in order by removing the offending triggers is critical for reducing and healing adrenal fatigue. Energy drinks are a huge offender and will most likely lead a person down the path of a slower metabolism and adrenal fatigue. Drinking plenty of water, supplementing, eating right and getting more sleep/rest can all be helpful in getting a person back to their old self.

Drug Use

Certain medications contribute to weight gain, so it is highly recommended to discuss alternate options and potential removal of those prescriptions with one’s health care provider. Illegal drugs and over-the-counter (OTC) medications can also be evil. A patient must read labels and ask the pharmacist if any “medications” may increase their appetite/weight or slow down the metabolism.

Decreased Gut Bacteria

This is a relatively recent area of concern and some small studies have shown that after prolonged antibiotic use (which will lower gut bacteria levels), people gained more weight than those not taking antibiotics. Also, some small studies have shown that adding probiotics to one’s daily intake can assist in weight loss. Gut bacteria play a critical role in nutrient digestion and absorption, which could be the reason people continue to eat even when they are full. They are “starved” for nutrition because they aren’t digesting and absorbing the nutrients the body craves/needs.

Until the underlying causes are addressed and people are taught what a healthy lifestyle looks like, the obesity epidemic will continue to grow. The dietary supplement industry can play a role in helping address many of these underlying factors, getting many back on the path to better health.

Looking for more guidance in the weight loss category? David Foreman will be discussing how functional foods and supplements can play an important role in reversing the obesity epidemic and more during the Tackling Weight Management With Nutrition Workshop on Tuesday, Sept. 26 at 9 a.m. at SupplySide West in Las Vegas. The Workshop is underwritten by NNB.

David Foreman is a registered pharmacist, author and media personality known to consumers internationally as “The Herbal Pharmacist.” A background in pharmacy and natural medicine put Foreman in an elite class of health experts who can teach integrative medicine practices. He helps consumers achieve health and vitality through his four pillars of health: diet, exercise, spirituality and supplements. Foreman is a graduate of the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy, currently serves on Organic & Natural Health Association’s (O&N) scientific advisory board and is the author of “4 Pillars of Health: Heart Disease.”

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