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Life Extension Magazine

Life Extension Magazine July 2011
As We See It

An Epidemic of Denial

By William Faloon
William Faloon
William Faloon
An Epidemic of Denial

About 65% of Americans are now overweight or obese, and this excess weight costs our nation an estimated $93 billion in annual medical bills.1

According to a recent survey, about 30% of overweight individuals think they are normal size, and 70% of Americans classified as obese felt they were simply overweight.2 Since it has become “normal” to carry excess body fat, we understand why so many are in a state of denial regarding their corpulence.

The problem is that excess body fat is more than a cosmetic issue. The words overweight and obese are medical terms. They mean a person’s surplus body fat increases risks of illnesses like cancer,3-9 diabetes,10-12 heart disease,13-18 and stroke.19-23

A study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development predicts that by the year 2020 nearly 75% of the American population will be overweight or obese.24 This exploding epidemic has led to the shocking prediction that in less than nine years, half of all Americans will be either pre-diabetic or suffer full-blown type 2 diabetes.25

Our early warning of an out-of-control health care crisis caused by so many overweight Americans is turning into a stark reality.

The challenge facing most people is how to remove surplus body fat stores.

There is encouraging news. In a series of meticulously conducted studies, researchers have demonstrated that a novel blend of plant extracts can simultaneously attack the fundamentals of obesity and induce significant fat loss in humans.

Scientists long ago discovered that people gain weight because their bodies accumulate too many bloated fat cells (adipocytes).26,27 Up until now, however, little could be done to reverse this deadly trend of adipocyte expansion.

Medical Establishment Remains Light Years Behind

When doctors are asked what can be done to avert the impending diabetes/obesity epidemic, the pathetic answers (such as eat less and exercise) reveal that mainstream medicine has little idea how to solve this problem.

At a medical conference I spoke at regarding this issue, I told the physicians that doctors are committing malpractice if they fail to take aggressive actions to reduce every overweight patient’s fat mass. It would be like observing a large melanoma lesion on a patient’s skin and letting the patient walk out of the office without doing something about it.

Medical Establishment Remains Light Years Behind

Most medical disorders can be traced to surplus fat mass. This can range from an infection (related to obesity-induced immune suppression) to crippling arthritis.28-35 Obesity has been shown to impede the activity of natural killer cells, a type of white blood cell that reduces viral spread by killing infected cells.29,36-38 In fact, obesity has been shown to increase the risk for complications of the dreaded H1N1 influenza infection.39,40

I tell doctors that common symptoms their patients present with are often caused by excess body weight and that it is impossible to optimally treat these patients without helping them to shed fat pounds. My objective is to enlighten physicians about the power of their prescription pads to introduce medications (such as acarbose41,42 and metformin43-46) that can safely help facilitate weight loss.

To fully inform physicians about the weapons at their disposal, I often give them a copy of our Life Extension® Weight Loss Guide that discusses the use of certain prescription medications, hormones, nutrients, and lifestyle changes that have clinically demonstrated benefits.

It is imperative that physicians don’t fall into the same lethal state of denial that overweight individuals have. Doctors are seeing so many obese patients in their office that they too often overlook the obvious necessity to implement aggressive fat loss interventions.

What Causes Fat to Accumulate on our Bodies?

Few people understand what is happening in their bodies as they accumulate fat pounds. To state it in the simplest terms, we become overweight because:

1. Fat cells (adipocytes) become bloated in our bodies from storage of surplus calories from food as body fat,

and

2. Fat cells become dysfunctional, resulting in metabolic derangements including impairments in burning of fatty acids for energy.48

What Causes Fat to Accumulate on our Bodies?

There are many reasons why we accumulate dysfunctional, bloated adipocytes as we age, especially in the abdominal area. The ultimate target of any obesity reversal program is to target bloated, dysfunctional fat cells.

Interventions focused upon bloated, dysfunctional adipocytes have been attempted by indirect methods, such as speeding up metabolic rate to burn excess fat mass stored in the body. Scientists have found limited success when employing certain adipocyte-reducing approaches—yet the obesity epidemic worsens each year nonetheless.

The problem has been that up until now, little has been available to directly target critical mechanisms responsible for bloated, dysfunctional adipocytes.

Herculean Effort Leads to Discovery of Anti-Adipocyte Plant Extracts

A group of scientists screened over one thousand plant extracts with the objective of identifying ones able to:

  1. Reduce the differentiation of pre-adipocytes into bloated, dysfunctional adipocytes (fat storage cells).
  2. Reduce excessive fatty acid uptake of existing adipocytes.
  3. Enhance lipolysis­—the breakdown of stored fat in adipocytes.

Extensive testing uncovered two plant extracts that function via multiple mechanisms to reverse the metabolic dysfunction associated with bloated fat cells.49

In one of the laboratory tests, fat accumulation in cells was inhibited by a remarkable 48.5% when treated with one of these plant extracts compared to control cells. The other component of this dual plant extract was shown to reduce fat accumulation in cells by a stunning 65.9% compared with control. 49

When measuring the breakdown of stored fat (lipolysis), 55.8% more fat was broken down in adipocytes using one of the components of this dual plant extract compared to control.49

These in vitro studies showed the potent efficacy of these plant extracts to reduce fat accumulation in cells and promote fat burning (breakdown) in adipocytes. The next step was to study the effects of this novel blend of plant extracts in the whole animal (in vivo) model.49

Using these Plant Extracts to Prevent Obesity in Rats

A group of healthy young adult rats were fed a high-fat diet for eight weeks. As expected, those that did not take the plant extracts (the control group) rapidly gained weight.

The rats taking the plant extracts showed a reduced body weight gain of 700% compared to the controls at the end of eight weeks.49 These were the same plant extracts that blocked fat accumulation by 48.5% and 65.9% in the cellular model.

This study showed that these plant extracts decreased diet-induced obesity in young adult rats.49

The final and obvious question is what effect these plant extracts will have on aging humans who are already overweight or obese…which represents the majority of the adult American population today!

A Key Human Clinical Study

Humans accumulate surplus fat because of multiple changes that occur as a result of normal aging—in addition to poor lifestyle choices. When simplistic methods to reduce body fat are utilized, the results often prove disappointing.

As you will learn in this month’s issue, scientists have identified many of the factors that conspire to cause unwanted weight gain and preclude it from being removed.

What has us most excited are the brand new findings showing that a novel blend of two plant extracts functions via six different mechanisms to:

  • Target progenitor fat cells (pre-adipocytes) to keep them from producing dysfunctional fat cells;
  • Reduce fat accumulation (adipogenesis) in adipocytes;
  • Break down excess fat (lipolysis) in existing adipocytes.

These cellular anti-fat functions are critical for weight loss success, though most dieters don’t yet understand this.

In this key human clinical study using these plant species, 60 obese adults were recruited and divided into two groups. One arm of 30 patients functioned as the placebo while a second group of 30 patients received the two plant extracts. Both groups followed a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet and were asked to walk 30 minutes five days a week.50

After eight weeks the group receiving this novel blend of two plant extracts experienced statistically significant improvements in many parameters including:50

  • Reduction of 4.05 inches in the abdomen—which was 2 times greater than the placebo arm.
  • Reduction in body mass index (BMI) of 2.05—which was 3.9 times greater than placebo.
  • Reduction in total body weight of 11.4 pounds—which was 3.7 times greater than the placebo arm.

What impressed the researchers who conducted this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was that noticeable reduction in waist and hip circumference, as well as body weight, occurred within the first 14 days!

The dual plant extract group also showed significant reduction in the waist-to-hip ratio, 2.2 times greater than the placebo group. This is important because improvements in the waist-hip ratio indicate the more dangerous visceral belly fat is being lost.

Also impressive was the trend toward improvement in the hormone adiponectin in the group taking the plant extracts.50 A higher level of adiponectin is encouraging because this hormone is known to improve insulin sensitivity51-55 and potentially protect cardiovascular health.56-59

Trends toward reduced levels of glucose and cholesterol in the dual plant extract arm reflect improved status of fat metabolism and reduced body fat stores.50

New Study Confirms Overweight People Die Sooner

The lethal impact of carrying surplus fat pounds may seem obvious. Until recently, however, no one could point to a study that did not have confounding flaws such as including those with pre-existing heart disease, cancer, etc.

A pooled analysis involving 1.46 million men and women was published in the New England Journal of Medicine that measured risk of dying with body mass index (BMI).47 Those with pre-existing illness and smokers were excluded.

The findings showed that compared with women of normal weight during the study period:

  • Overweight women (BMI between 25.0 and 29.9) were 13% more likely to die;
  • Moderately obese women (BMI between 30.0 and 34.9) were 44% more likely to die;
  • Severely obese women (BMI between 35.0 and 39.9) were 88% more likely to die;
  • Morbidly obese women (BMI between 40.0 and 49.9) were 151% more likely to die.

The body weight/risk of dying pattern was similar for men. The lowest mortality risks were for the people who had a body mass index (BMI) of 20 to 24.9.

The “body mass index” or BMI is based on how much someone weighs in relationship to their height. The BMI is not a completely accurate mortality predictor as a large waist circumference even in those in the normal BMI range can increase one’s risk of early death.

A Second, Key Human Study

The findings from the trial described above indicate significant weight loss as well as improvement in several metabolic parameters with a natural plant-based product. Contrast this fact with many FDA-approved weight loss drugs subsequently withdrawn because of lethal side effects.

The plant species used in these studies have been consumed by humans for thousands of years, and no known adverse effects have been shown. Unlike natural plant extracts, weight loss drugs comprise synthetic chemicals with little or no history of human use.

Using these Plant Extracts to Prevent Obesity in Rats

The findings from the first study described are supported by a second, similarly designed trial.

In the second human study, 60 obese subjects were evaluated at baseline. They were then divided into three groups that consisted of a placebo arm, an active arm receiving one plant extract, and another active arm that received a dual plant extract.49

All participants followed a 2,000 calorie-per-day diet and were asked to walk for 30 minutes five times a week for 8 weeks.

After eight weeks the group receiving the dual plant extract experienced statistically significant changes in their abdominal circumference, total body weight, and their hip circumference similar to those seen in the first study mentioned above.49

These confirmatory findings indicate that this novel dual plant extract may enable aging humans to safely shed unwanted body fat stores.

Obesity arises from the increased size of individual adipocytes (fat cells) due to enhanced lipid (fat) accumulation. It worsens as adipocytes transform into dysfunctional, bloated adipocytes.

This novel blend of plant extracts has been shown in cell cultures to reduce the ability of progenitor fat cells (pre-adipocytes) to transform into bloated fat cells.49 Cell data also shows that components of this dual plant extract reduce the amount of fatty acids taken up by adipocytes and facilitates the breakdown of fat stored in existing adipocytes.50

When tested in obese human study subjects, this dual plant extract induced noticeable effects at 14 days and significant benefits at eight weeks compared with placebo.

There has never been a formulation available that directly functions via these specific anti-adipocyte mechanisms. The first article in this month’s issue describes in molecular detail how this new dual plant extract can help aging people remove excess body fat stores.