Coronary Heart Disease and Obesity: What Does the Association Tell Us?

Coronary heart disease is a leading killer of Americans. Ample evidence shows a strong association between heart disease and obesity. Indeed, overweight and obesity are major risk factors for heart attacks, arthrosclerosis, and other cardiac problems. What might this association tell us? Why does becoming obese predispose us to heart disease?

The Caloric Balance Hypothesis tells us nothing.

The Lipophilia Hypothesis tells us that high carbohydrate intake causes most of the chronic diseases of civilization, including obesity and coronary heart disease.

The proposed mechanisms by which a high carb diet (and elevated insulin levels) could drive heart disease are complex, obviously. For a fascinating discussion of the relationship between diet and cardiac health, see:

1. Gary Taubes' book, Good Calories Bad Calories.[1]

2. Life Without Bread (pp 73-109).[2]

In addition, here are some randomly selected articles culled from around the internet that seem to support this premise as well:

3. "Scientific proof carbohydrates cause disease"

"Carbohydrates cause nearly all age-related diseases."[3]

4. "High carb foods can cause heart attacks."

"A new study from Tel Aviv showed what happens in your body when you eat high carbohydrate foods... researchers fed healthy volunteers one of four meals: cornflakes with milk, a pure sugar mixture, bran flakes, or a placebo (water)... the result: people who ate high sugar foods (cornflakes and pure sugar mixture) showed a sudden thickening of their artery walls for several hours."[4]

5. Here's another article that argues:

"Excess carbohydrates also cause generalized vascular disease. The high carbohydrate diet that is now so popular causes the pancreas to produce large amounts of insulin, and if this happens for many years in a genetically predisposed person, the insulin receptors throughout the body become resistant to insulin... excess insulin also causes hypertension and helps initiate the sequence of events in the arterial wall that leads to arthrosclerosis and heart disease."[5]

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1. Taubes, Gary. "Good Calories, Bad Calories." New York: Knopf (2007).

2. Allan, Christian and Lutz, Wolfgang. "Life Without Bread." pp. 73-109. New York: McGraw-Hill (2000).

3. Rieske, Kent. Scientific Proof Carbohydrates Cause Disease (1/3/2004).

4. High carb foods can cause heart attacks (7/8/2009).

5. Ron Kennedy, M.D. Carbohydrates in Nutrition. via website.

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