So a few weeks ago, my wife, the lovely Dr. Reeves, tells me that I am welcome to attend a medical conference with her. Here is the skinny. It is the annual meeting of the American College of Osteopathic Internists. It is in San Antonio. At the new Marriot Hill Country Resort & Spa. And it will be a kid free, four day weekend covering our 15th wedding anniversary. Bingo! To make things even better, I am given clearance from the tower to go for a daily run and participate in the Friday Fun Run Race or as I called it, the Doctor Dash. Booyah! But more on the race later. The photo above is the view from the resort as the sun rose after the race. The course wound down the hill and into the canyon where the fog is settled.
My plan was to attend some lectures, get some runs in and otherwise relax. During the welcome dinner we met Cynthia, a doc from NYC that serves the Chinatown area. Turns out her husband is an avid runner and is working on his membership in the 50 States marathon club and wants to start running ultras. They even spent their honeymoon running Antartica (marathon for him, half for her). Back to the conference. The focus this year is on obesity. A rising epidemic not only in our country but around this big blue marble we all live on and call home. At least it was a topic of interest to me and not something like arthritis. I have had an interest in obesity which was only sharpened the more I searched for ways to improve my running performance and overall health. Books I read such as The China Study, Eating Well for Optimum Health and Proof Positive helped me understand the nutrition side of the equation. Now thanks to running and some personal philosophy I consider myself to be a bit smarter than the average bear when it comes to nutrition. So naturally I'm interested in the conference lectures. Following are some of the more interesting points I jotted down from the lectures. Again, I am not a medical expert so these notes are written in a manner that made sense to me. However, I have included the speaker's info for reference.
At breakfast the first day I attended an interesting lecture. The speaker had the audience think of the known history of man as a single 24 hour period. In terms of obesity the initial 23 plus hours are remarkably unremarkable. But about 23h45m the agricultural era is born and shortly after that the industrial period. Both of these would have a significant impact on obesity. In the last 15 seconds of the day, say since about 1980, obesity has exploded. Think about it. The invention of processed and frozen foods to be mass produced. Food packed in cans, wrapped in plastic, boxed up and shipped from the factory right to your local big box, mega retail grocery outlet. Just rip it open, pop it in the microwave and eat.
I'm 40 something and grew up eating mostly home cooked meals. Fast food joints were a luxury to us. A treat for special events. Most of the food we brought home from the store had to be eaten before it spoiled. Most of it didn't have an extended shelf life. Foods are now more calorie dense than before with the processed ingredients. Even something as simple as beef, no longer holistically pasture raised, now contains more fat and cholesterol with less protein and nutrients. Not to mention the addition of growth hormones and antibiotics. And to make matters worse portion sizes have ballooned. Lumberjack sized servings are now normal. Today's kid meal was yesterday's full size adult meal. And to top it all off, study after study shows a dramatic decrease in the amount of regular physical exercise people get in our world today.
Some interesting tidbits from the same lecture. Babies breastfed longer than 12 months have a markedly reduced incidence of obesity as adults. Adequate sleep on a regular basis helps keep people at a more ideal, age appropriate weight. The magic time being the often suggested 8 hours nightly for adults. For kids the number is 10 hours per night. This last one is the most surprisingly to me. Obesity is contagious. It has been documented that individuals who have close social relationships with someone who is obese, a spouse, sibling, parent or close friend, are more likely to suffer from obesity. In my mind the opposite is true. A person who is surrounded by fit folks, maybe runners, is more likely to be a more fit and healthy person.
Mia Taormina D.O.