Insulin Resistance causes Type II diabetes

Is it possible that blaming the obesity epidemic on over-eating as such has the causality the wrong way around? Well, I love me some TED talks and this one is among the best ever.

Take a look for yourself.

What I find most amazing about this, and I speak to the matter of moral versus mathematical reasoning elsewhere on this blog, is the open reversal of positions that Dr. Attia espouses in his talk. I have also written directly about the causal path that he is presenting as a hypothesis in a few of my pages here; namely, insulin resistance -> metabolic syndrome ->  degenerative disease (obesity, Type II diabetes, HAC, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and et cetera).

If the prevailing hypothesis is that obesity causes Type II diabetes, then Attia proposes the antithesis; namely, that insulin resistance causes Type II diabetes. Of course, this antithesis leads one to think about what causes insulin resistance in the first place because the previous suspect (over-eating) has been removed as a candidate. One is not motivated to look for alternative candidate causes (epidemiologically speaking) if you’ve already got your mind made up.

Blame the victim, or not …

The serious notion of moral blame is directly addressed here. That is, in the model of fortune and misfortune, where one is either being punished for one’s own misdeeds or the random target of fate, Attia openly admits that his working assumption was that all Type II diabetics were getting just what they deserved for their own misdeeds of over-consumption. He contrasts this position in the most heartfelt way with the view that cancer patients are simply drawing short straws in the bad-luck-lottery.

His next step is a hypothesis that it is essentially high glycemic highly refined sugars and starches in the modern diet that are the cause. Stepping back from that and looking for a cause for the prevalence of these highly refined sugars and starches goes to the industries that produce and sell them for their own profitability.

This sequence is, perhaps not surprisingly, a repetition of what happened with lung cancer and smoking. First, we observe that smokers get lung cancer. We blame the smokers for their own misfortune. Then, the causal link with the disease and smoking is proven beyond a doubt. We delve more deeply into the epidemiology and reveal the addictive qualities of nicotine, the management of this by manufacturers, together with the side-effects of cancer due to oxidative stress on lung tissue from the free radicals in cigarette smoke. Then we step past the smoker’s behavior to the industry that promotes it and that feeds off of it. Then it becomes a matter of public policy to manage the industry for the public good.

What a revision!

Don’t you just love it? Is it not a thing of beauty to tip your cup full of ideas over on its head and see what drops out?