I've been listening this afternoon to Baroness Susan Greenfield, Oxford University professor, on Simon Mayo's Radio 5 programme. And that means I've just heard her give wrong information about what causes obesity. And that's a great shame, because she's known as a scientist and she's very influential.
I went to a talk she gave about ten years ago and I made a point of speaking to her afterwards and showed her photos of me from 1997: photos in which I was extremely fat as a consequence of taking prescribed HRT. She could see that I had lost a great deal of weight (51 pounds, in fact) since then and was surprised to learn that I had done this by drastically reducing my sodium intake, not by dieting.
She was in a bit of a rush and asked me to write to her as she was very interested. This I did, writing to her at the Royal Institution, in her capacity as Director there. I explained that blood volume increased markedly with obesity. We exchanged a few letters but the correspondence was disappointing to me, as I had hoped she would pursue the matter of sodium retention and water retention as causing obesity, rather than overeating, and sodium reduction for reducing excess weight, rather than eating fewer calories or less fat.
I gained from that correspondence the very strong impression that she was reluctant to consider prescription drugs and the medical profession and misinformation from them as blameworthy in regard to people becoming obese. I believe she was reluctant to criticise medics.
The statement of purpose of the Royal Institution when it started in 1799 was: "The application of science to the common purposes of life." As such, clearing up the misinformation and spreading the truth about obesity and how it can best be prevented/reduced would admirably accord with that purpose.
Sadly, Baroness Greenfield gave the same misinformation today that we commonly hear, as she spoke of eating too much being the cause of overweight. - It isn't, and there is no evidence to support her assertion. - I'm very surprised that ten years on from our letters she appears to have failed to investigate the connection between obesity and salt sensitivity.
Happily, when I wrote to Professor Sir Richard Doll, then Emeritus Professor of Medicine at Oxford University, in 2001, he wrote back agreeing with what I had written about obesity problems caused by poor prescribing and indicating that these could be lessened by diuretics and/or eating less salt/sodium, a fact I had already deduced. He wrote that all doctors should know this.
Obesity is not caused by overeating; it is caused by salt sensitivity/fluid retention in vulnerable people. These include children. - See Vulnerable groups
When people whose blood vessels are weaker than the norm eat salt, the result is weight gain and obesity (because of excess sodium and water held in the blood vessels and elsewhere). This condition is also known as sodium retention, water retention, fluid retention, salt sensitivity or oedema. If these people reduce their salt intake they lose some of the excess sodium and water, and so lose weight, and if they eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables they lose weight faster, because the potassium in the fruit and vegetables displaces some of the excess sodium from the body.
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