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Obesity? Diabetes? We’ve been set up

The twin epidemics of obesity and its cousin, diabetes, have been the target of numerous studies at Harvard and its affiliated hospitals and institutions. Among seminal findings was the first study to document the extraordinarily tight connection between the two diseases. Research done by Harvard School of Public Health Professor Walter Willett and his colleagues showed that being even slightly overweight increased diabetes risk five times, and being seriously obese increased it 60 times.
Harvard researchers are targeting obesity and its cousin, diabetes
When it comes to the nation’s growing obesity and diabetes epidemics, the more we know, the more the evidence points to one conclusion: We’ve been set up.
Important findings about humanity’s past, about how we live and eat today, and even about how we typically treat type 2 diabetes — with medications that themselves induce weight gain — are providing clues that explain how the past two decades could see an explosion in overweight and obese Americans and skyrocketing cases of type 2 diabetes, which is usually closely tied to the problem.
Harvard’s extensive research on the subject weaves a story of ancient humans who were both extraordinarily active and able to easily gain weight in times of plenty. It illuminates how a modern diet rich in refined carbohydrates and heavy in red meat has preyed on Paleolithic instincts, creating an obese nation, a health crisis, and what one researcher describes as a hard-to-escape cycle of weight gain, insulin resistance, and weight-retaining diabetic medication, leading to more pounds.
“It’s not just a trap, it’s a trap and a downward spiral,” said Assistant Professor of Medicine Osama Hamdy, a physician at Harvard-affiliated Joslin Diabetes Centerand director of a groundbreaking weight loss program being replicated at Joslin affiliates around the world.
Hamdy and hundreds of other Harvard investigators in recent decades have produced a dizzying array of findings on obesity and diabetes. Even a casual look at the years of research on the subject shows a slew of results on how lifestyle affects weight and how weight affects health. It shows new genes discovered, laser surgery to save diabetics’ eyesight, new diabetes drug candidates, and advances in using stem cells to replace the insulin-producing beta cells that diabetes destroys. Findings also illuminate humanity’s active, running past, to help us understand the problem’s roots.

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