Look, Ma, no risk factors! (Just risk)

The British medical journal The Lancet published a study this week of the success of a new obesity drug, rimonabant. It’s a double-action substance, simultaneously telling the brain to shut up when it says, “I’m hungry” and also forcing fat cells to stop producing the nasty chemicals that elevate cardiovascular risk factors. (Read the BBC news story here.)

That’s the good news.

The bad news – the bad news that was reported by the researchers, that is – is that those who showed the greatest weight loss and decrease cholesterol levels and insulin resistance also experienced the highest level of side effects such as nausea, dizziness and diarrhea.

The real bad news is what this new wonderdrug will do to our understanding of the relationship between risk factors and risk. Let me explain.

A risk factor is a noticeable leading indicator of a bad outcome down the road. If you have high blood pressure today, you’re in danger of a heart attack or stroke at some point in the future. If you’re obese, you’re at increased risk of a bunch of diseases. And so on.

We know about risk factors from studies like the Framingham Heart Study, which looked at tens of thousands of healthy people, took a ton of measurements and observations, and then waited to seen which of them developed heart disease.

Here’s the important thing to remember: these risk factors are associated with disease. They are not proven to cause disease. Drugs like rimbonant may effectively sever the relationship between risk factor and disease by addressing the symptom rather than the cause.

For example: rich people tend to have more Mercedes hood ornaments than poor people. So let’s distribute Mercedes hood ornaments in poor neighborhoods to fight poverty.

Why is obesity so bad for us? That’s the question these studies are forgetting to ask. What if obesity (and all its related bloodwork risk factors) is simply telling us that we’re not getting the nutrients we need to be healthy? What if being overweight is just a visible clue that we’re putting garbage into our bodies, compromising our machinery and starving our metabolic processes?

So we create drugs that kill our appetites. Now what? Now we’re thin, but still gunking up our insides and malnourishing our bodies. Will we live longer, healthier, and happier that way? I don’t know about you, but I don’t wake up in the morning hoping for day filled with dizziness, nausea and diarrhea.

The lead researcher on the rimonabant study did say something telling in a BBC radio interview this morning: “We no longer measure obesity in kilos. We now have to measure obesity in terms of risk.”

He’s absolutely right. But ironically, drugs like rimonabant may make it impossible to make the connection in the future.

The real answer to obesity, of course, is to eat food fit for humans. No other species on the planet suffers from widespread and chronic obesity (except for animals who eat food manufactured by humans, like pets and scavengers and lab rats). Mother Nature, the universe, God, the Tao – whatever name you want to give it – has provided us with everything we need to eat well for optimal health and a bathing suit bod. The name we give it here at nutrientrich.com is Nutrient Rich.

When you learn how to transition to a Nutrient Rich standard of eating (like all of us at nutrientrich.com have done), you won’t need to take appetite busting drugs that mess with the natural functioning of your miraculous and complex body.

In a few years, when millions of people are chugging rimbonant hat could be our new slogan: “Nutrient Rich: Great health and your ideal weight without dizziness, nausea, or diarrhea.”

Gotta go work on the jingle.

2 thoughts on “Look, Ma, no risk factors! (Just risk)”

  1. Hello Doc,

    I agree with what you’re saying in part. I never said obesity doesn’t kill (it does) and merely eating more micronutrients on top of a nutrient poor diet is by no means going to reverse an obese persons condition.

    It appears to me that you are confusing cause with effect.

    Obesity is an effect, not a cause, the same way that a heart attack is an effect, and not the cause of death.

    What causes obesity and what causes heart attacks?

    All of the factors leading to obesity and premature death, are the ones that need to addressed. It starts with eating a diet that is Nutrient Rich and this has a myriad of benefits; but eating is only one component of a successful lifestyle. Energy levels, activity levels and other factos play a major role.

    If you look into the lifestyle of an obese person. You can blame it all day on genetics, but I can tell you with a high degree of certainty; genetics need to be fed!

    If you look into the lifestyle of most people, experiencing an obese condition, it comes down mostly to lifestyle factors.

    Thanks for your comment.

  2. “Why is obesity so bad for us? That’s the question these studies are forgetting to ask. What if obesity (and all its related bloodwork risk factors) is simply telling us that we’re not getting the nutrients we need to be healthy? What if being overweight is just a visible clue that we’re putting garbage into our bodies, compromising our machinery and starving our metabolic processes?”

    This speculation is arbitrary.
    If you don’t think that obesity kills, why not come to my diabetic clinic ? Obesity kills almost as many people as smoking. Obese patients could eat every good nutrient known to man and still will die young according due to their obesity.

    Do you really think some micronutrient is going to stop the heart from straing from pumping against a wall of fat ?

    I think not.

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