Morbid Obesity:
Could Low Carb Diets Help?

What is severe obesity (a.k.a "super obesity" or "morbid obesity")?

Medically defined, a patient is considered “severely obese”

... if his or her Body Mass Index (BMI) exceeds 40 kg/m2.

How dangerous is severe obesity?

Unfortunately, the more obese a person is, the more at risk he or she seems to be for developing a gallery of health problems --from depression/anxiety to life-threatening illnesses, like stroke and thrombosis.

Why don't people who are morbidly obese just eat fewer calories and/or try to burn more calories off?

This is a very common question. Obviously, most morbidly obese people, at least in the United States, have been warned about the dire health consequences of their “way of life” many times over. The common idea (and this site argues that it’s a misconception) is that the super obese are either too lazy to change their habits or too addicted to food to stop overeating.

Is there another way to think about what might cause morbid obesity?

Yes. Super obesity may be physiological in origin. To most people--even sympathetic family members of the super obese--this proposition at first might seem absurd. Everyone, it seems, has a pity-story about watching a 400-pound woman order two pizzas for herself at the mall food court.

But what if, despite our prejudices to the contrary, morbid obesity is not a problem of overindulgence or sedentary behavior?

How could this possibly be?

Here's the alternatively theory.

When we eat simple carbohydrates (such as are found in breads, rices, and fruit juice), our blood sugar levels elevate. The body responds to high blood glucose levels by secreting surges of insulin. Over time, regular “insulin floods” can disrupt a cycle in the body called the fatty acid triglyceride cycle and cause triglycerides to get stuck in the adipose tissue.

So too much insulin can make us obese?

The biochemistry of how insulin drives fat accumulation seems to clear implicate carbs in obesity. And this theory might explain why the super obese often cannot lose weight unless they cut out eating carbohydrates and potentially deal with other metabolic dysfunctions of their adipose tissue.

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