Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Obesity protects against disease, unless you eat butter

Notes:

- This post is a joke, a weird parody of academic research, which is why it is labeled “humor” and is being filed under “Abstract humor”. In my reading of academic articles I often come across articles with a lot of problems – interpretation biases, idiotic self-citation, moronic research designs, misguided immodesty, exaggerated political correctness, fake markers of high moral standards, nonsensical quantitative analysis etc. I decided to write a short post on a fictitious study that has all of these problems (a challenge).

- I apologize for this spoiler. Some people probably like humor posts better if they do not know what they are in advance, but several others may think that reading a post like this is a waste of their time. If you are in the latter category, move on to another post! If not, here it goes …

***

New groundbreaking forthcoming research by Drs. Deth and Disis (full reference at the end of this post) shows beyond much doubt that obesity is protective against disease. The research also implicates butter as a powerful disease-promoting agent. The research is forthcoming in the journal Butter Toxicity Review.

(Sources: Topnews.us and Flickr.com)

The journal is listed as an “elite”-level journal on the website of the Society for Research on Butter and its Negative Health Effects (SRBNHE). I thank the researchers for sharing their findings with a select group of notable scholars, of which I can humbly say I am part, well in advance of its official publication. Another seminal study by the same researchers has been cited in this post.

The study followed 2,301 male participants over a period of 13.3 years. Their ages ranged from 20 to 37 years. Approximately half of them were morbidly obese, with body fat percentages of 60 or higher. That is, more than half of these individuals’ bodies were pure fat! These obese individuals were matched against an age-compatible control group of fit men with a mean body fat percentage of 9.2.

The focus of the study was on sexually transmitted diseases among individuals with high moral standards. Because of that, the researchers noted that: “A small group of individuals, who admitted to availing themselves of adult entertainment services, and/or services of a similarly immoral nature, were excluded from the study.”

Among the fit individuals, 15.7 percent contracted one or more types of sexually transmitted diseases during the 13.3-year period. Only 3.1 percent of the obese individuals contracted ANY sexually transmitted disease. This difference was statistically significant at the .001 level (i.e., very significant), even when the researchers controlled for various demographic factors.

Even more interesting were the patterns of risk-avoidance behavior observed. The vast majority of the fit individuals (84.3 percent, to be more precise) reported using protective items (i.e., condoms). However, NONE of the obese individuals used those. And yet, the obese individuals had significantly less incidence of sexually transmitted diseases.

The researchers concluded that: “It is abundantly clear from this research that obesity, especially at the levels found in this study, is protective against sexually transmitted diseases.”

There were only two apparent anomalies. Among the 3.1 percent of obese individuals who contracted sexually transmitted diseases, approximately 97 percent scored very high on “NTW”, a variable that measured the net worth in dollars of the individuals, including accumulated parental allowances.

The other 3 percent (of the 3.1 percent of obese individuals) scored low on NTW but very high on a latent variable called “FBC”, based on a perceptual 11-indicator, 7-point Likert scale measurement instrument, whose anchor indicator referred to the question-statement: “He is fat but cute.” The respondents for FBC were a random group of female protesters who threatened to denounce the study for what they alleged was discrimination against adult entertainers.

Regarding these apparent anomalies, the researchers noted that: “The association with FBC calls for additional research, and does not invalidate the overall results, since it involved a very small percentage of the individuals studied (3 percent of 3.1 percent, or 0.093 percent). However, we have strong reasons to believe that the association with NTW reflects an underlying predisposition toward elevated consumption of butter.”

The researchers cited previous theoretical research, which they also co-authored and published in the same elite journal, which provides a solid basis for this suspicion. That seminal theoretical research points to a clear but complex link between being very obese/rich and: (a) elevated butter consumption; and (b) susceptibility to diseases of any kind, caused by the elevated butter consumption.

Again, I would like to thank Drs. Deth and Disis for their advance sharing of their groundbreaking findings. Their brilliance is only matched by their humility; they noted at the end of their report that: “While this groundbreaking research clearly points to the protective effects of extreme obesity, and to one more possible negative effect of butter consumption, we believe that much more research is needed to further elucidate the nature of the negative effects of this known toxin.”

Reference:

Deth, R., & Disis, M. (forthcoming). STD incidence and obesity: The deleterious effect of butter consumption. Butter Toxicity Review.

12 comments:

Michael Barker said...

Sorry, you did a good job but there's no OBLIGATORY rat study. You can't do fat without a rat. Again, I'm sorry.

Mike

Gyan said...

nicely subtle.

An unrelated point, you generally warn against eating saturated fats with carbs, but traditionally carbs like potato and wheat are always consumed with saturated fats like butter/ghee. This seems to be true in Europe, Middle East and India (can not say about Andes where the potatoes come from).

So the biochemical reasoning that warns off on butter with carbs is not supported historically and perhaps there are some other factors. Maybe butter wards off some of wheat toxicity?

Ned Kock said...

Michael:

I agree. You put rats on a high fat diet and they get ridiculously obese very fast!

Gyan:

Fat blunts the insulin and glucose responses with a meal, which is why the glycemic index of ice cream is not that high. So there is at least one positive effect.

The problem is that, when you consume carbs with fat on a daily basis, you put on body fat very quickly. Fat is the most calorie-dense of the macro-nutrients, and carbs induce an insulin response that prevents fat burning (and thus increase body fat deposition).

Ned Kock said...

Gyan:

One more thing. I believe that if you go back as little as 100 years, you will see a pattern of more energy expenditure and less refinement of carbs, compared to today.

I am one of those who believe that energy expenditure is an important part of the body fat gain equation. I agree with Taubes and others that exercise makes you hungry, but that does not necessarily have to lead to body fat gain. Exercise on a low carb diet tends to lead to body fat loss, even when there is relatively little control of calories consumed.

Less refinement of carb-rich foods generally means a lower glycemic load, even if the glycemic index is about the same. For example, the glycemic load of potato is rather low compared with that of refined wheat products:

http://healthcorrelator.blogspot.com/2010/04/huge-gap-between-glycemic-loads-of.html

Gyan said...

Fat may blunt the insulin response of a carb load but I suppose the total insulin required is independent of dietary fat.

Is it possible that the dietary saturated fats may strengthen the integrity of gut lining or have some other effects that counter-act specifically wheat toxins?

Ned Kock said...

It seems that a change dietary in macronutrients can have an effect on the composition of our gut flora. The problem is to figure out what changes to make to get the desired benefits. Will more fat help? Maybe.

Our gut flora can do a LOT of things (even control our minds, some argue), so I wouldn't exclude neutralization of toxins. What are toxins for us may become food for the right kind of bacteria.

Gut microorganisms have a tremendous genetic variety, and short lifespan, so their have the ability to evolve quickly to adapt to new gut environments.

Jack C said...

Myristic acid, a saturated fat that comprises about 12% of butterfat, seems to have some unique benefits in that it:
(1)significantly increases the preponderance of large, buoyant (pattern A: non-atherogenic)LDL (pubmed 9583838)
(2) stimulates eNOS production of NO which improves endothelial function and enhances carbohydrate metabolism (pubmed 15970594)

Also, I recently read somewhere that breast tissue synthesizes different fats in response to need, and that the fat that is synthesized in the greatest amount is myristic acid.

Butter is good.

Ned Kock said...

Jack:

Interesting connection between myristic acid and endothelial nitric-oxide synthase.

lunchwithouted said...

Ha!
Butter is good and now Ned I want to know more re: Our gut flora can do a LOT of things (even control our minds, some argue)
Please point me in the right direction!
Mahalo!

Ned Kock said...

Peter at Hyperlipid posted about our gut flora controlling our minds, making mice get too close to cats, and a few other things that reminded me a bit of this movie:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Happening_(2008_film)

I wonder about the magnitude of those effects in humans, who are smart enough to figure out when something is wrong with their feelings. Stress and high glycemic foods also make us to all kinds of funny things; possibly the magnitude of their effects, in combination, is very high.

Hopefully I will have some time in the near future to really delve more deeply into the gut flora topic. I find it fascinating.

For now, I think a sign that something may not be right is too much gas, which seems to normally happen when people ate certain things in excess - e.g., fiber and fructose. Fructose in reasonable quantities (from a few servings of fruit per day, NOT from sodas or table sugar) seems pretty harmless, and actually beneficial in some cases (e.g., glycogen depletion).

Gut flora seems to be one of Dr. Ayers's favorite topics:

http://coolinginflammation.blogspot.com

Anne Wright said...

Gyan:

Another factor may be that the glycoalkaloid toxins in nightshade foods (a-chaconine, a-solanine, a-tomatine, in potato, tomato, etc.) can cause membrane disruption of the epithelial cells lining the gut. These also bind tightly to cholesterol, and when bound to cholesterol pose less of a danger to the gut lining.

So, if you eat a cholesterol-containing food together with nightshade, you're somewhat protected from the toxic effects of the nightshade, and may also be less likely to absorb the cholesterol. This may be part of why traditionally you find them together: meat/butter with potato, cheese with tomato, etc.

I speculate that cultural messages to avoid cholesterol may increase susceptibility to the negative effects of nightshade in recent decades. Unfortunately, very few people know how to recognize such effects as potentially relating to nightshade consumption (gut irritation/permeability, increased anxiety/stress response, excess muscle tension/spasms/IBS, joint pain/arthritis).

It may just be a coincidence, but it was only after I fell prey to the cholesterol-is-bad messages that the problems I now associate with nightshade consumption started to seriously interfere with my quality of life.

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