Kathy Ireland and Obesity: a common American problem

Kathy Ireland’s Shocking Weight Gain (and Loss)” and we thought we’d take this opportunity to talk about some misconceptions about hormones and weight.

Sometimes people who are overweight think they might have a “hormone problem” and indeed they are right. But it’s not the hormone you might think! While it’s true that low levels of thyroid hormone (a condition called hypothyroidism) can cause weight gain, this is a relatively rare problem compared with the real culprit — the hormone insulin. In this case it’s too high (a condition called hyperinsulinemia). Insulin is produced in special cells of the pancreas (see illustration in entries for Patrick Swayze and Ruth Bader Ginsberg) and plays a normal role in the metabolism of dietary sugar, starch and other carbohydrates. But when we eat too many of these foods over too long a period of time, this can lead to chronically high levels of insulin which can cause obesity, type II diabetes, heart disease or a combination of these conditons known as Syndrome X.

These are two really excellent books on this subject. (One of us actually lost weight during a cruise ship vacation just by following some of the rules in Sugar Busters.)

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Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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