Tag Archives: obesity

Obesity’s Link to Cancer

(Note: This article first published in The Huffington Post)

Does being overweight increase your risk of getting cancer? Does losing weight reduce that risk? The answer to both questions is a resounding yes. In some cases, the risk is over 50 percent greater. I had no idea the link was so strong, and it turns out that more than 50 percent of Americans are not aware there is any link at all. I am so glad I solved my obesity problem 30 years ago. I knew it probably kept me from getting heart disease and diabetes but I was not aware of such a strong link to cancer.

In the winter 2016 issue of Your Weight Matters, the magazine of the Obesity Action Coalition, Taraneh Soleymani, M.D., teaches us that next to smoking, keeping one’s self at a healthy weight is the most important thing an individual can do to reduce the risk of cancer. If we didn’t have enough reasons to lose weight before, we now have probably the biggest reason ever, preventing cancer.

What kinds of cancers are linked to obesity, and how much greater is the risk?

Dr. Soleymani shocks us with the report by the American Institute for Cancer Research that states that 50 percent of colon and rectal cancers can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, balanced diet and physical activity. Half of these cancers are caused by the obesegenic lifestyle that we’ve adopted. Just as shocking, 38 percent of breast cancers, 69 percent of throat cancers, 24 percent of kidney cancers and 19 percent of pancreatic cancers are preventable through healthy weight management. If we are looking for the cure to cancer, here’s the preventive solution: lose the obesity.

Why does being overweight or obese make it easier to get cancer?

As it turns out, your excess fat is not just an inert mass of fuel you’ve stored. It is living active tissue that acts like an organ, manufacturing hormones (our body’s self-made “natural” drugs) that act on the rest of your body, in this case, making it more vulnerable to the generation and growth of cancer. Research reported by The Obesity Society, as well as Dr. Soleymani, points out that it produces chemicals that stimulate (cancer) cell growth, increase the overall inflammation in your body, which is associated with increased cancer risk, and produces excess amounts of estrogen, high levels of which have been associated with the risk of breast, endometrial, and some other cancers. Being obese is like having a factory in your body polluting you with cancer-causing chemicals every day. But get rid of the excess fat, problem solved.

What can we do to get rid of the increased risk of getting cancer?

Fortunately, there is no mystery to the solution. We need to lose the excess weight. And there is no mystery to that either. We need to develop a way of living so that we habitually take in fewer calories than we burn, so that we burn off the fat instead of storing it up. We need to learn new behavior, and instead of dieting, develop new habits of eating what we like in a way that makes us healthy. That’s done through behavior therapy. Believe me, it can be done.

William Anderson is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in weight loss, eating disorders and addictions. He solved his own long-time weight problem, losing 140 pounds 30 years ago and has kept it off since. He is the author of The Anderson Method.

ADHD in Children Linked to Adult Obesity. Treatment Prevents it.

A new study conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic suggests that female children who suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are more likely to become obese later in life compared to children who do not have the condition.

Kumar and her team discovered that female participants who had ADHD experienced a twofold higher risk for obesity throughout their childhood and adult lives compared to those who did not have the condition.

They also found that children who received stimulant treatment for their ADHD did not experience any increased risk of obesity as a result of the procedure.

Click on the link below or copy and paste the web address to read the article about this study.

http://www.techtimes.com/articles/130905/20160205/adhd-in-girls-shapes-possibility-of-adult-obesity-study.htm

Is Food Addiction Keeping You From Losing Weight?

(First published in The Huffington Post)Corpulent Woman Having Addiction to Unhealthy Food

Have you ever thought of yourself as a food addict? If so, you are not alone.

Ask yourself these questions:

1) Do you find yourself craving and eating certain foods even though you’re not physically hungry?

2) Have you tried to have just a bit of something like ice cream or chips and find that you can’t stop, sometimes eating the whole box or bag?

3) Do you think about food constantly?

4) Do you try to cut back or abstain from overeating, repeatedly fail, and feel guilty or ashamed because of it?

5) Are there times when “too much is not enough” and you just can’t get enough?

6) Does your overeating cause you significant problems, yet you continue to do it, and can’t help yourself?

7) Does your eating get worse if you are stressed, anxious, angry or hurt?

8) Do you often feel angry or anxious if you try to limit your eating?

If you answered “yes” to more than a couple of these questions, you are like most of the clients who have come to me for help to lose weight. Like me, they had been told that diet and exercise were the answer to their weight problem. However, they just could not get themselves to diet and exercise for very long, if at all, before going back to their old ways. If they were able to lose a significant amount of weight, it wasn’t long before they put it back on.

Relax. You’re normal. You’re OK. But you might be a food addict.

In fact, it’s normal to be a food addict in America. Approximately 70 percent of us are overweight and 35 percent of us are clinically obese. And it’s not like we want to be. If fact, we spend billions on weight loss because we hate it. Yet we are still overweight and it’s getting worse.

In addiction counseling, there are often disputes with clients about whether or not they are an addict when they swear they are not. When I first started treating addictions, before I solved my own food and weight problem, an old alcohol counselor gave me his definition of an addict: An addict is a person who, when they indulge, it causes problems, yet they continue to indulge.

You see, if a person is normal and mentally healthy, and they find that some behavior is causing big problems in their life, they just stop, or change it so it no longer causes problems. For example, if you discovered that you were suddenly allergic to shellfish or peanuts and got sick every time you had it, you’d stop eating whatever you were allergic to. You don’t keep touching a hot stove.

But addicts don’t stop. They keep drinking or using even when it costs them their job, family and health, even when they try their hardest to stop. They keep smoking even when they know its damaging their lungs, even after they’ve tried to quit dozens of times. That’s the “insanity” and power of addiction. It prevents a person from stopping something they know is killing them. They are powerless. And often the addiction clouds their mind so they live in denial. I had a smoker on oxygen once tell me, “it’s not that bad” when we were talking about his COPD. An alcoholic told me he only had a “touch” of cirrhosis. I had one in jail on his third DUI tell me his drinking was really not a problem. If they were in their right minds and able to exercise their will and self-preservation instincts, they’d quit those addictions in a heartbeat. Normally, if you find that something you do is ruining your life and happiness, you stop. But addictions have a power over a person’s will and even their insight.

In America, we have a food addiction problem. It’s exacerbated by a culture that is in denial about it. We promote eating as a pastime and as a form of entertainment and important part of socializing and networking. We’ve convinced ourselves that enormous portions are normal and that overindulging is lighthearted fun. Meanwhile, the fact is that it is killing us.

I grew up overweight and spent years failing at diets. Like 35 percent of us I was obese, actually way more than obese, and I had every one of those behaviors I listed at the beginning of the article. I often joked about being addicted to Doritos and Oreos, but it was not until I started working with addicts and studying addictions and how to treat them that I realized I really was a food addict. And treating my problem as an addiction with behavior therapy finally solved my weight problem.

If you are a food addict, the routine approach using diets and exercise is not going to solve your problem. Neither will surgery. They won’t change what has to be changed because yours is not a weight problem. It’s a behavior problem, an addiction problem. And it won’t get fixed until you treat it as such.

What is Saxenda, The New “Blockbuster” Weight Loss Medication?

(Originally published in The Huffington Post)


Successful diet

There is a new “blockbuster” weight loss drug on the market, Saxenda, and it is available in many U.S. pharmacies this month. It is perhaps the most important weight loss medication ever developed. Novo Nordisk Inc., a very big and very old Danish pharmaceutical company, has launched the new drug after months of anticipation by consumers, clinicians and market watchers.

Saxenda is very different from all other weight loss drugs. For one thing, it is a once-a-day injection, like some diabetes medications, instead of a pill. For another, it works in an entirely different way, mimicking a naturally-occurring hormone that your intestine secretes when you eat food.

In research conducted only in the last few decades, scientists have discovered that the gut releases a hormone when you eat food that helps regulate the levels of sugar in your blood and slows down the emptying of your stomach. This results in feelings of satiety and a reduction in sensations of hunger and desire to eat.

The hormone-mimicking drug in Saxenda, Liraglutide, was originally marketed as Victoza, prescribed to treat diabetes. It was discovered that a “side effect” of Victoza was weight loss. Saxenda is essentially a double dose of Victoza, and after much testing, the FDA approved it for weight loss in December of 2014.

One-year studies show that over 60 percent of people using Saxenda had a 5 percent reduction in weight while trying to lose weight, as opposed to 34 percent taking a placebo. Thirty-one percent taking Saxenda lost more than 10 percent of their weight.

One of the most important attributes is that it can be used effectively long term, for chronic management of obesity. It is not like the appetite suppressant weight loss drugs that only work for a while. Like other medications used for diabetes, it introduces a hormone that compensates for a deficiency.

Like The Anderson Method, which is a behavioral weight loss program for people with chronic obesity, Saxenda is not for lightweights, people without a serious weight control problem or who only need to lose a few pounds. Saxenda is appropriate for people who are clinically obese with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or a BMI of 27 with another medical condition, like high blood pressure or diabetes. For example, someone who is 5’4″ would have to be at least 157 pounds with a medical condition, or 174 pounds without an additional medical condition.

Like many medications, Saxenda has warnings that are frightening. Though rare, some of the possible adverse effects are serious. This is not something to be treated casually. You need to work closely with your doctor if you want to use Saxenda. The adverse effects are not experienced by everyone, but should they occur, this is not for you. The most common are nausea and diarrhea. The serious ones are thyroid tumors and pancreatitis. If you have one of several conditions, like a history of thyroid cancer, this is not for you.

The term “Blockbuster” has been used to describe it because of its “box office” potential. It is expected to be a huge moneymaker. We are talking about “billions and billions” as Carl Sagan would say. The cost will run about $1,000 per month and it remains to be seen if medical insurance will play any part in paying for it. No doubt those who have the means will be getting it right away and others will be waiting for the patent to run out.

Saxenda is not a magic cure, just like bariatric surgery does not fix everything for an obese person. We have to change our behavior. Behavioral therapy is the answer to that. But solving the problem would be so much easier for my clients if they did not have the extraordinary biological drives that I am certain are due to some hormonal disorder that results in extraordinary hunger, cravings and compulsion. Behavior therapy alone has worked for me and many of my clients, but it is not enough in some cases.

I have believed that there is a biological imbalance that is part of the disease of obesity and I have prayed for something that would help resolve it. Saxenda may be the first medical intervention to answer those prayers and I am sure there will be more and better advances in the future.

How to Know When Weight Loss Surgery Is The Right Thing to Do

Bariatric surgery
When I was twelve, after countless days of torment over my weight and inability to control it, I would have given anything to have the surgery that would solve the problem for me. I’m glad it didn’t happen. I went on to discover how to lose weight permanently while enjoying eating more than ever, lost over 100 pounds after years of dieting failure, and went on to teach others how, and to write the book about it, The AndersonMethod.

Some think of me as the weight loss counselor’s counselor who is against bariatric surgery, so people are surprised to learn that I’ve recommended bariatric surgery to a number of clients.

In fact, I’ve worked hard to convince some people that weight loss surgery was something they needed to be open to and look into. At times, I’ve told them I think it must be done ASAP. And while my weight loss method is a behavioral approach, teaching people how to form the habits and unconscious behavior to achieve permanent weight loss, I work with many people who have had the surgery. That’s because, even with the surgery, you still need to change your eating habits and change them for life. More on that later.

A few years ago, bariatric surgery started becoming a big business with magazine ads and billboards advertising the different competing hospitals’ surgical weight loss programs. Smiling doctors and attractive stories enticed people. Free seminars offered all your answers. Before and after pictures and stories excited anyone who has dreamed of solving their weight problem. It really bothered me because I knew that lots of people would be drawn to this and choose it, thinking it would relieve them of the need to change their eating habits. They thought that the surgery would be easier than counseling in behavioral therapy, a way to solve the problem for many without the surgery, not to mention being a small fraction of the cost. Many would ignore the risks and downsides of the surgery. They would choose not to consider that they would need to learn how to change their habits anyway and that many people who lost weight with the surgery had not kept it off. I know that weight loss surgery is not the right thing for most of these overweight people.

So, if I’m so sure it’s the wrong thing in many cases, what makes me think it’s the right thing sometimes? The main factor that leads me to advise people to have the surgery is emergency.

Sometimes, the threat from their obesity is so dangerous that life is at stake and there is no certain way to restore hope and eliminate the risk other than the surgery. Simply said, we’ve run out of time. There is no more time to depend on methods that are not absolutely guaranteed to produce immediate dramatic weight loss to prevent further deterioration we may not recover from.

The cases where I’ve prescribed surgery all involve clients who have made sincere heroic efforts, but have been unable to overcome the forces that prevent them from losing weight. They have all reached the point where they have given up hope that they will ever be able to lose weight. Now, let me be clear, it’s normal to become hopeless, even regularly, for people who try to lose weight, but in these high-risk cases, the hopelessness spirals them downward to a deterioration they might not recover from. With most of us, after a while, we are able to see things differently, learn more, and resume the work to get control of the weight and eventually succeed.

What is this deterioration that I say is so dangerous? In some cases, it is mobility. They are just not able to move around without great pain and difficulty, reducing their movement while destroying their spirit. With some, it is a profound hopelessness where nothing but misery and an early death is imaginable, driving them further down a black hole that is dangerous in itself. Some are so medically compromised with dangerous heart conditions and diabetes that they are a ticking time bomb and time is running out. Nothing has worked and they are getting worse.

In all these cases, as soon as the decision to go ahead with the surgery is made, hope is restored. They are able to believe, without doubt, that they will be able to lose weight, because it is the new physical condition, the alteration of their gut, that will cause them to lose weight. They don’t have to depend solely on their own efforts.

Another characteristic that may be present in those I’ll recommend for bariatric surgery is an unusually powerful eating drive that I am certain is biologically based. It is a drive so strong, like that associated with the worst addictive drugs, that we are unable to overcome it, even with the best behavioral interventions we employ. With most people, we are able to answer the cravings in a way that overpowers them, and also employ methods that will reduce or eliminate them. In these worst-case scenarios, the people are unrelentingly tormented by these drives that cannot be overcome. The surgery acts as an additional tool in their toolbox that strengthens their ability to manage their eating, physically limits what they can process and absorb, and may have an important impact on the production of hormone, as we know it does related to diabetes, that influences eating drive and behavior.

How has it worked? I’m happy to say that I am hearing “I’m doing great! I have my life back, better than ever” more often than ever, more often than when I only offered behavioral therapy in my weight loss counseling work. My clients who were spiraling down are getting better, having hope. They are able to apply the behavioral techniques with increased effectiveness. Like my other successful clients, they are mobile again, with less pain and discomfort, ridding themselves of the diabetes and high blood pressure and the medicines they needed to treat them. They are happier with themselves and their lives.

If you have been chronically overweight and unable to achieve the weight loss you want, rest assured that it can be done. Your habits will have to change for life, but that does not have to be by sheer force of will alone. There is a whole body of behavioral technique that I teach, that can be learned, that makes behavior change possible.

But, if you have done all that, learned all you can from me and tried your best, and things are getting worse and you are running out of time, weight loss surgery might be right for you. So says the weight loss counselor’s counselor who people think is totally against bariatric surgery.

William Anderson is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in weight loss, eating disorders and addictions. He is the creator of “Therapeutic Psychogenics”, which helped him lose 140 pounds permanently thirty years ago after years of obesity and dieting failure. He has written a book about it, The Anderson Method, and he is teaching these techniques to individuals and therapists all over the country.