A Real Look Into Obesity with Dr. Eric Ravussin

The misconceptions about obesity are everywhere. Many people still claim that individuals affected by obesity are just lazy, that they eat too much, or that they’re not even trying; but there is a reason that some people can eat without gaining a single pound, and others gain weight despite watching carefully what they eat.

The reality is that obesity is genetic and is becoming a chronic disease. To make matters worse, we also live in an obesogenic environment which promotes weight gain rather than facilitates weight loss.

Obesity, left untreated, causes diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and even some forms of cancer. It affects millions of people across the globe. In Louisiana, 2 out of 3 adults and 1 in 3 children are overweight or obese. These statistics are staggering.

Here at LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Dr. Eric Ravussin has dedicated his life to discovering the triggers of this chronic disease. In his research, he studies the “liability genes” that cause so many people to live with high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, and other concerning obesity-related diseases.

The Pima Indians in Arizona are a great example of this gene-environment interaction. They have the highest prevalence of Type 2 diabetes and the second highest prevalence of obesity in the world.

“There is no question that Pima Indians have a high prevalence of liability genes which now predispose them to obesity and diabetes in our western environment. They did not become obese because of a lack of willpower to move more and eat less,” said Dr. Ravussin.

Back when they had to work hard in the field to grow food, or go through stages of famine, obesity was not an issue. However, nowadays with food access everywhere and no periods of food scarcity, their health issues are quick to show due to these obesity genes.

Genetics loads the gun; environment pulls the trigger,” says Dr. Ravussin, quoting the famous Dr. Elliot Joslin.

However, most people don’t see it this way; and with the lack of sympathy towards obesity, researchers are finding it harder to raise money for this devastating disease.

“People know that obesity is bad. Not just because your knees are giving up, or because you are huffing and puffing going up the stairs. People know it’s not good, but what they don’t know is that it’s most likely because of the liability genes and the environment we now live in,” says Dr. Ravussin.

Something needs to be done about obesity. More research must be conducted in order to investigate these liability genes that are wreaking havoc throughout the United States and across the globe. Obesity is no longer seen as just a lifestyle choice, it is a disease that needs to be eradicated.

If you want to help Pennington Biomedical find the trigger to this chronic disease and reduce the obesity rates in Louisiana, donate here.