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Message to thin people: illness and disease has your number too

Naturally thin people have to eat a good diet as well – and exercise, of course – to keep from succumbing to some of the same ailments and debilitating diseases that afflict the obese.

 Dr. Timothy

In weeks past, I’ve dealt with obesity and the need for those grappling with this problem to eat more fruit, vegetables and exercise in order to maintain good health. But it occurred to me that naturally thin people have to eat a good diet as well – and exercise, of course – to keep from succumbing to some of the same ailments and debilitating diseases that afflict the obese.

You may not know it, but some thin people have poor eating habits just like overweight people. They cram down junk food and continue about their daily lives as if they’re impervious to sickness and diseases. They sit on their derrières and lapse into sedentary lifestyles without thinking about the grave repercussions of lethargy. In essence, they, too, are susceptible to sickness and diseases: high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks, cancer and diabetes.

For example, there’s a myth that only obese people, or “fat people,” develop diabetes. But would you believe that skinny people could become diabetic as well? They are rarely mentioned in the media or in scientific literature because obesity is strongly associated with type 2 diabetes. And just because they’re thin, they automatically assume that they can’t become diabetic. But remember, one in three type 2 diabetics go undiagnosed, according to medical experts.

So what causes type 2 diabetes in skinny people in the first place? Whether you’re extremely thin or morbidly obese, the causes of type 2 diabetes in skinny people are similar to the causes of type 2 diabetes in obese people: genetics, fatty liver, inflammation, autoimmunity and stress. You don’t have to be a glutton or scoff down food to develop type 2 diabetes.

High blood sugar is typically the culprit that precedes the development of type 2 diabetes. If high blood sugar is allowed to persist, the next stages could be nerve damage, retinal changes, and early signs of kidney deterioration. So it doesn’t matter if a person is thin or obese, high blood sugar has to be reined in to keep the former and latter from developing type 2 diabetes.

You might be surprised also to discover that skinny people – just like the obese – face the same high risk of colon cancer. This fact emerged from a long-term Singapore Chinese Health Study involving more than 50,000 participants, The Straits Times of Singapore reported. The study was funded by the United States National Cancer Institute.

The study found that those with a body-mass index (BMI) of 21.5 to 24.4, only 89 out of 100,000 had colon cancer. But the number of cases went up to 103 when those with BMIs were 18.5 to 21.4 and 24.5 to 27.4. And the number of cancer cases climbed higher to 119 among those with BMIs of 18.5 or less.

The research team included members from the University of Minnesota and was led by Koh Woon Puay, a researcher at the National University of Singapore and the principal investigator. “We are trying to understand how this is biologically plausible,” Puay told The Straits Times.

The research team suggested that the high risk of colon cancer in underweight people could be the result of “oxidative DNA stress,” or mild inflammations, that damages the immune system and allows cancer cells to proliferate. The researchers studied rectal cancer as well and found the results to be similar.

When it comes to heart health, a study that appeared in an issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine used government surveys from 1999 to 2004 to determine if weight was a telltale sign or risk factor for heart problems. You’d be surprised at the findings.

There are risk factors in all weight categories, the study pointed out. The survey was conducted on 5,440 people age 20 and over, and included lab tests, height and weight measurements. About 51 percent of overweight adults – some 36 million people nationwide – were considered healthy based on normal levels of blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.

But then on the flip side of the survey, about a fourth of thin adults in the recommended weight range – about 16 million – were at risk for heart problems. So the experts concluded that a person’s waist size could be an accurate way of determining someone’s health risks. In my opinion, it all boils down to eating a good diet and getting plenty of exercise.

(Dr. Timothy Moore teaches nutrition, heart disease and diabetes reversal through a plant-based lifestyle. He is a professional speaker, wellness coach and personal plant-based chef. He can be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit him on the Web sites at www.cheftimothymoore.com or www.twitter.com/cheftimmoore.)


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