Obesity is not necessarily caused by eating to excess or by insufficient exercise. There has never been a scrap of reproducible scientific research or evidence to support the theory that it is only excess calorie intake that causes obesity, nor that calorie deficit necessarily reduces obesity. The theory and the advice it spawns should be abandoned forthwith. They cause great harm and suffering.
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.
Once the truth is told about how salt-related, mainly drug-induced, obesity comes about:
There will be a marked decrease in salt consumption by those vulnerable to salt. I hope that there will also be a marked reduction in doctors prescribing steroids and amitriptyline and other drugs which weaken the blood vessel walls. Either of these will result in a significant lowering in the incidence and severity of obesity, particularly child obesity. This would be assisted if the current limited prescribing of fresh fruit and vegetables by doctors could be extended, since obesity is disproportionately higher in lower income families, who may not be able to afford to buy much fresh produce.
There will also be far fewer people having strokes, suffering from high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attacks, enlarged heart and breathlessness, varicose veins and haemorrhoids, phlebitis and other vein problems, exhaustion (because carrying excess water round in the blood vessels is a tiring condition), osteoporosis (because sodium retention contributes to bone demineralisation), and many other physical health problems. Notable among the other physical health problems drastically reduced will be most cancers, since most cancers have obesity as the biggest contributory factor, and diabetes, with its attendant possible complications of blindness and the need for limb amputations. (A survey carried out by Cancer Research UK found that most British people do not know there is a strong link between obesity and cancer. Most were aware of a link between obesity and heart disease, but not with cancer. Studies have shown that being overweight increases the risk of cancer of the breast, bowel, womb, kidney and oesophagus. A major study (2003) by the American Cancer Society also associates obesity with stomach cancer and prostate cancer in men, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and cancers of the cervix, ovary, prostate, liver, and pancreas.)
And there will be far fewer people with emotional health problems, since they will not have their self-esteem lowered by being grossly overweight and feeling unhappy about it, and unhappy about the insults and discrimination to which they are subjected. There will be fewer suicides and attempted suicides.
Obesity also contributes to infertility in women, so reducing obesity will result in fewer women needing to seek expensive and time-consuming treatment for infertility.
Far fewer children will become obese and so will have happier and healthier childhoods. They will also be able to learn more effectively.
Old people will suffer less from the diseases commonly occurring in old age and attributed to old age, but really caused by sodium retention. They will be happier because they will be stronger and healthier, and will be better able to stay independent and continue to live in their own homes instead of going into old people's homes. Some, because they are still fit and have the energy to do so, may choose to continue to go to work, thereby continuing to contribute income tax to the economy.
Individuals will be less tired and have more energy so they will sometimes choose to walk, rather use the car, for short journeys. When they do drive, they will be more alert and so there will be fewer traffic accidents.
The drugs bill will be lowered significantly because of the reduced need for drugs - drugs for high blood pressure, for cancer, for depression, for diabetes, for appetite suppression, ointments for haemorrhoids, etc.
People will need far fewer GP appointments.
There will be a massive drop in the numbers seeking dietary advice for obesity and in the numbers seeking professional help to deal with feelings of low self-esteem.
There will be massive hospital in-patient and out-patient savings because of lower incidence of cancer, hypertension, obesity, heart disease, diabetes and sleep apnoea, and far fewer strokes and heart attacks and varicose vein operations, etc. Breathing problems will be fewer and less severe. Likewise headaches will be fewer and less severe because high blood pressure is one of the causes of headaches.
Fewer people will be made blind by diabetes.
Fewer people will develop eating disorders.
There will be a lower incidence of vascular dementia and, I believe, of Alzheimer's Disease too, as I believe it is often connected to salt sensitivity and salt intake, and to inadequate nutrition when people whose excess weight is caused by water retention try vainly to reduce their weight by calorie restriction.
There will be a massive drop in the number of operations done on desperately overweight people - in which surgeons remove some of the stomach, for instance, or wire up the jaws, or perform liposuction or breast reduction, etc. So this will be a saving of surgeons' time and the time of their teams and of the nursing and auxiliary staff, and will free hospital beds.
Gradually the amount of food required per capita in the developed countries will be reduced, because the calorie requirements and appetites of people who have lost weight by eating less salt will be reduced.
Food producers will need to provide some convenience foods - bread, for instance - that contain no salt at all, and so are safe for steroid victims and other victims of water retention to eat. I hope for some small-scale provision of bread made completely without salt and provided fresh each day rather than relying on some artificial chemical means to give it a long shelf-life.
Savings for business and industry will be massive.
Illness, disability and absence from work will all be less. Individual worker productivity will increase because of the general physical health improvements and the lowering of stress and emotional upsets. Fewer employees will have to take early retirement because of salt-related chronic illnesses/disability. There will be fewer accidents at work. Insurance costs will be reduced.
Lower individual calorie requirements will mean less food will need to be transported, so fewer food-transporting vehicles will be needed and there will also be a saving of fuel.
The diet industry will be reduced and, hopefully, eventually close down, based as it is on the over-eating/calorie myth. - So people working for slimming magazines, the psychiatrists/psychologists/nutritionists etc. concocting new, and reiterating old, theories to explain the putative psychological reasons that obese people 'over-eat', and failing to appreciate that obese people have an overwhelming biological need to eat much more than people of normal weight in order to service their heavier bodies, will be released to work in other jobs. Likewise personal trainers, the inventors of new diets of dubious safety, the drug companies and scientists working on discovering yet more appetite-suppressant drugs which will harm overweight people by causing them to eat less food than their bodies require. - And, my personal favourite, the calculation of the number of calories in food will be rendered largely unnecessary. (I realise that some of the workers in the diet industry do advise lowering salt intake and increasing fresh fruit and vegetable intake and are to be commended for this, but most of them confine themselves to 'slimming' advice and adhere to the theory that obesity is necessarily caused by over-eating and should be reduced by restricting the intake of calories and fat, and increasing exercise, all of which measures are irrelevant in the reduction of obesity.)
Fast food outlets may gradually become fewer.
Fewer care-workers and care homes for the elderly will be needed as the incidence and severity of many of the chronic diseases of old age will be lowered by reduction of sodium intake in those who are vulnerable to salt.
See also my Fat Retention page.
And please read my Disclaimer.
Forget about calories! - Cut down on salt! - You'll lose weight fast - as if by magic!
In recent years people have been eating more convenience foods and these are high in salt. Salt can cause obesity and health problems in vulnerable people.
If you have gained a lot of weight and become obese because of
taking prescribed steroids or HRT then I have very good news for you!
When children become fat it is essentially because they are eating salty food. Children are especially vulnerable to salt because of their small size and small blood volume, and because their blood vessels are weaker than those of adults... read more
During pregnancy a woman's hormone levels alter. The hormone most relevant to undesirable weight gain is oestrogen... read more
Patients may sometimes find it helps with the problem for which it has been prescribed, but be that as it may, it frequently produces a host of adverse side-effects, including weight gain... read more
...most or possibly all of these symptoms are the result of fluid retention and will be lessened or avoided by reducing salt intake... read more