Western Diet May Lead to Overeating and Obesity

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Mechanism found to indicate why the Western diet leads to obesity.  

Woman lifting obesity

Woman lifting obesity

America is in the state of an epidemic.  At least two-thirds of the adults in the United States are considered overweight or obese and the global cost could be as high as 2 trillion dollars per year to treat obesity-related illnesses according to the McKinsey Institute.   What could be the cause of this enlarging shift in our waistlines?  The long term implications of this volume of our population being obese will destroy our medical system.  

Substantial biomedical and clinical evidence suggests that chronic overconsumption of a western diet in which foods consisting high levels of sugars and fats results in and is a major cause of this epidemic.  New research now shows that chronic consumption of a western diet may lead to overeating and obesity due to elevations in peripheral endocannabinoid signaling.  Our bodies release endocannabinoids are hormones that bind receptors mammalian brain and nervous systems. Known as “the body’s own cannabinoid system”[1],  the signaling system is involved in a variety of physiological processes including appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory, and in mediating the psychoactive effects of cannabis[2].

The tie to the cannabinoid system is not surprising considering that marijuana has a tie to increased appetite.  The interesting point is that we might be able to develop a drug to block or inhibit the actions of the endocannabinoids in the periphery to normalized food intake or appetite.  The study found that inhibiting this system does indeed reduce dietary intake.  Researchers did caution that there may be differences in humans so more search is needed.  
The bottom line: This research, at this stage, is of limited clinical benefit.   That being said, it does not show a path to develop future medical treatments.  Once pharmaceutical companies develop a new antagonistic drug to block or inhibit the receptor so that the cannabinoid system and limit the activation of this system, we will have a true medical treatment to block appetite.  Excessive appetite is only one cause of obesity.  People also eat out of boredom, hunger, and depression to just name a few reasons.  
Footnotes
[1]Nagy and Tari, “The Relationship between the Growth Retardative Effect of CCC and Ethylene Production.”
[2]“Endocannabinoid System.”
[3]Argueta and DiPatrizio, “Peripheral Endocannabinoid Signaling Controls Hyperphagia in Western Diet-Induced Obesity.”
[4]“How a Western Diet Leads to Overeating and Obesity.”
Argueta, Donovan A., and Nicholas V. DiPatrizio. “Peripheral Endocannabinoid Signaling Controls Hyperphagia in Western Diet-Induced Obesity.” Physiology & Behavior. Elsevier BV, March 2017. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2016.12.044
Nagy, M, and I Tari. “The Relationship between the Growth Retardative Effect of CCC and Ethylene Production.” Acta Biologica Hungarica 37, no. 3–4 (January 1, 1986): 295–97. [PubMed]
“Endocannabinoid System.” Wikipedia. Accessed February 20, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endocannabinoid_system.
“How a Western Diet Leads to Overeating and Obesity.” Science Daily, January 11, 2017. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170111184359.htm.
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About the Author

ChuckH
I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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