According to the Centers for the Disease Control (CDC), the obesity epidemic in the United States has been rising at an astonishing pace for the past 20 years. Almost 36 percent of U.S. adults (ages 20+) are considered to be obese, or have the Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 and over.1 And, almost 70 percent of the U.S. adults are overweight (BMI of 25 or more), including those who are obese!1 An even more devastating concern is the steady rise in childhood obesity – over 18 percent of children and adolescents aged 6 -19 years are classified as obese.
BMI is a quick calculation that helps to screen for obesity in adults and children. To calculate a BMI, divide the person’s weight in kilograms by height in meters squared. You can do this quickly with the BMI calculator on our Web site in the “healthy tools” section. As previously mentioned, those with a BMI of 25+ are considered “overweight” while those with a BMI of 30+ are considered “obese.”
Obesity is a risk factor for many health problems, including diabetes or pre-diabetes, coronary heart disease, cancers, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, liver and gallbladder diseases, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, infertility, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and gynecological problems, to name a few. Aside from a wide range of medical problems associated with overweight and obesity, the toll it takes on an individual’s self-esteem and quality of life is incalculable.
With all of the fad diets and weight loss pills on the market, I have to say that there is unfortunately no magic product for weight loss. Garcinia cambogia may be one of the recent diet supplements that you’ve heard about. It has been featured in many media outlets, and highlighted on Dr. Oz. Garcinia cambogia (also known as Malabar Tamarind) is a small, pumpkin-shaped fruit that is grown and used mainly in India and Southeast Asia. The key active ingredient in Garcinia is hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which has been shown to inhibit fat production and suppress appetite.6,7 HCA is widely used in several weight loss supplements, including Hydroxycut™ which has been shown to cause liver damage.4,5 Even though there have been several research studies on Garcinia (mostly done on animals), little is known about its long-term effects on humans, and clinical trials on Garcinia have been very small with a short term use and produced mixed results.7
In addition, Garcinia can potentially be dangerous as it has been shown to increase pro-inflammatory markers (e.g., Monocyte Chemoattractant Protein-1 and Tumor Necrosis Factor-α), damage the liver (by raising liver enzymes ALT and AST levels), increase oxidative stress, and cause electrolyte imbalance.6,7, 8 Like so many other diet pills out there on the market, I certainly would not call Garcinia a miracle pill for weight loss.
So, what’s the real solution to tackle the weight problem? People should avoid fad diets and use their common sense when it comes down to their weight loss strategies. Nothing is better than healthy, whole-food nutrition and regular exercises (both aerobic and weight training). I would also recommend meeting with a naturopathic physician to help you to achieve your optimal weight and wellness. So, what is naturopathic medicine and how can we help?
Naturopathic Medicine is a unique holistic medical system that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century, in which it attempts to understand the root causes of disease and how our genes, our environment, and our lifestyle factors interact to determine health or disease. A licensed Naturopathic physician (N.D.) attends a four-year, graduate-level Naturopathic medical school and is educated in all of the same basic sciences as a medical doctor (M.D.), with the difference that he/she also studies holistic and non-toxic approaches to healing, with a strong emphasis on disease prevention and optimizing wellness.
A Naturopathic physician is board certified by his/her state and is expected to uphold the highest standards of primary medical care. Naturopathic physicians aid healing processes by incorporating a variety of natural treatments based on the patient’s individual needs and support the unique expression of health and vitality for each individual. Naturopathic doctors spend a significant amount of time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic diseases.
Naturopathic doctors attempt to answer the question “Why?” – not just “What is the right drug for this disease?” The question is not “What disease do you have?” but, “What system(s) in your body are out of balance?” By shifting the conventional disease-centered focus of medical practice to a more patient-centered approach, Naturopathic medicine addresses the whole person, not just the disease; and treats the system(s), not just symptoms.
For more information about Naturopathic Medicine, visit the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians – www.naturopathic.org – and Virginia Association of Naturopathic Physicians – www.vaanp.org – Web sites. If you haven’t already met with one of the naturopathic doctors at Nova, I encourage you to schedule a complimentary 30-minute meet and greet visit to learn more about our unique approach.
1. Obesity and Overweight. CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/overwt.htm
2. Heymsfield SB, Allison DB, Vasselli JR, Pietrobelli A, Greenfield D, Nunez C. Garcinia cambogia (hydroxycitric acid) as a potential antiobesity agent: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 1998 Nov 11;280(18):1596-600. PubMed PMID: 9820262.
3. Mathew GE, Mathew B, Shaneeb MM, Nyanthara B. Diuretic activity of leaves of garcinia cambogia in rats. Indian J Pharm Sci. 2011 Mar;73(2):228-30. PubMed PMID: 22303069; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3267310.
4. Stevens T, Qadri A, Zein NN. Two patients with acute liver injury associated with use of the herbal weight-loss supplement hydroxycut. Ann Intern Med 2005; 142: 477-478 [PMID: 15767636 DOI: 10.7326/0003-4819-142-6-200503150-00026]
5. Dara L, Hewett J, Lim JK. Hydroxycut hepatotoxicity: a case series and review of liver toxicity from herbal weight loss supplements. World J Gastroenterol 2008; 14: 6999-7004 [PMID: 19058338 DOI: 10.3748/wjg.14.6999]
6. Kim YJ, Choi MS, Park YB, Kim SR, Lee MK, Jung UJ. Garcinia Cambogia attenuates diet-induced adiposity but exacerbates hepatic collagen accumulation and inflammation. World J Gastroenterol. 2013 Aug 7;19(29):4689-701. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v19.i29.4689. PubMed PMID: 23922466; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3732841.
7. Egras AM, Hamilton WR, Lenz TL, Monaghan MS. An evidence-based review of fat modifying supplemental weight loss products. J Obes. 2011;2011. doi:pii: 297315. 10.1155/2011/297315. Epub 2010 Aug 10. PubMed PMID: 20847896; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2931392.
8. Mathew GE, Mathew B, Shaneeb MM, Nyanthara B. Diuretic activity of leaves of garcinia cambogia in rats. Indian J Pharm Sci. 2011 Mar;73(2):228-30. PubMed PMID: 22303069; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3267310.