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Glossary of Terms

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A

Actos (pioglitazone hydrochloride)

A drug that decreases Insulin Resistance in peripheral and hepatic tissue. It is in a class of anti-diabetic drugs called "thiazolidinediones" that are used in the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes.

Adiponectin

A protein hormone produced and secreted exclusively by adipocytes (fat cells) that regulates the metabolism of lipids and glucose. Adiponectin influences the body's response to insulin. It also has anti-inflammatory effects on the cells lining the walls of blood vessels. High blood levels of adiponectin are associated with a reduced risk of heart attack. Low levels of adiponectin are found in people who are obese and therefore at increased risk of a heart attack.

Adipose tissue

Adipose tissue cushions and insulates the body and is the largest reservoir of fuel-storing energy in the form of rapidly utilizable triglycerides. It is primarily located beneath the skin but also found around internal organs. In the skin, the tissue accumulates at the deepest level, the subcutaneous layer, where it provides insulation from heat and cold. Around the organs, it provides protective padding and also functions as a reserve of nutrients. In a severely obese person, excess adipose tissue hanging downward from the abdomen is referred to as a panniculus (or pannus). A panniculas complicates surgery of the morbidly obese and may remain as a literal "apron of skin" if a severely obese person loses most of his or her excess weight, as in the case of a bypass.

Adrenal glands

Located above each kidney, adrenal glands are comprised of an outer wall (cortex) that secretes important steroid hormones (aldosterone, cortisol, testosterone, estrone) and an inner portion (medulla) that produces epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine. These hormones influence many vital functions such as heart rate, blood pressure and the way the body uses food, adapts to stress and expresses sexual characteristics.

Adrenocortical hormones

Hormones secreted by the adrenal cortex, e.g. cortisol, aldosterone and androgens (testosterone).

Aldactone (spironolactone)

A diuretic used in the treatment of hirsutism, PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), congestive heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver, kidney disease, hypertension and in resistant cases of low potassium (hypokalemia). It is also used to counteract the effects of excessive adrenal aldosterone production (as from an adrenal tumor) which influences sodium retention, potassium excretion and blood volume.

Alzheimer's disease

A progressive, neurodegenerative disease characterized by loss of function and death of nerve cells in several areas of the brain leading to loss of cognitive function including memory and language. It is the most well known type of dementia.

Angiotensinogen

The precursor to angiotensin II, which constricts blood vessel walls and raises blood pressure. In addition, it enhances macrophage accumulation (see Tumor Necrosis Factor TNF) as well as the metabolism of nitric oxide into free radicals.

Arteriosclerosis

Literally the hardening and thickening of the arteries. This condition, divided into three distinct variants, can occur due to build up of fat deposits (plaque) on the inner walls of arteries (atherosclerosis), calcification of the wall of the arteries (Monckeberg's medial calcific sclerosis), or thickening of the muscular wall of small arteries and arterioles (arteriolosclerosis).

Atherosclerosis

A form of arteriosclerosis that occurs when fatty deposits called plaque cling to the interior walls of the arteries causing narrowing and blockages which can lead to heart attacks, stroke and embolism.

Autoimmune disease

Illness that occurs when body tissues are attacked by their own immune system. It is felt that estrogen in females may influence the immune system to predispose some women to autoimmune diseases. Examples of autoimmune diseases include Juvenile (Type I) Diabetes, systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjogren syndrome, Hashimoto thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, Addison's disease, vitiligo, pernicious anemia and pulmonary fibrosis.

Avandia (rosiglitazone maleate)

A drug that increases insulin sensitivity, it is in a class of anti-diabetic drugs called "thiazolidinediones" that are used in the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes.




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Kelly D. Brownell and Derek Yach,
Foreign Policy,
Nov 1, 2005
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"There is a clear and consistent scientific literature showing pervasive bias against overweight people. It is logical that the bias begets discrimination. There is now sufficient evidence of discrimination to suggest it may be powerful and occurs across important areas of living.

Studies on employment have shown hiring prejudice in laboratory studies. Subjects report being less inclined to hire an overweight person than a thin person, even with identical qualifications. Individuals make negative inferences about obese persons in the workplace, feeling that such people are lazy, lack self-discipline, and are less competent. One might expect these attributions to affect wages, promotions, and disciplinary actions, and such seems to be the case.

Overweight women, for the same work, receive less pay than their thin counterparts. This does not seem to be the case for men, but overweight men sort themselves into lower-level jobs. There is evidence that promotion prospects are dimmer for overweight individuals, and there are many examples of people being fired on account of excess weight."
Rebecca Puhl and Kelly D. Brownell, Bias, Discrimination, and Obesity, Obesity Research 9:788-805 (2001)
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"Middle-age people who are overweight but have normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels are kidding themselves if they think their health is just fine." "Northwestern University researchers tracked 17,643 patients for three decades and found that being overweight in mid-life substantially increased the risk of dying of heart disease later in life – even in people who began the study with healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels."
Obesity may be an independent risk factor for heart problems, MSNBC
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"Simply losing 5-7% of your body fat (typically 10-15 pounds) and increasing your physical activity by taking a brisk walk 4-5 times a week can reduce your risk of developing Type II Diabetes by almost 60%."
Diabetes Prevention Program study 2001, study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, et al.
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Article by Dr. Sheri Colberg, Phd, FACSM


"The United States is experiencing an epidemic of obesity. Thirty-four percent of adults are overweight and an additional 30% are obese. Thus, 2 of every 3 Americans have an unhealthy body weight. Obesity contributes to over 300,000 deaths per year, principally through its association with cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and several cancers. Obesity currently is the second leading cause of preventable death and will soon surpass cigarette smoking, the leading cause. Health economists estimate that obesity costs our nation approximately $100 billion a year. And these figures say nothing about the personal suffering of those affected by obesity."
Testimony of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO) before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform, Subcommittee on Human Rights and Wellness, 9.15.2004 (.PDF)

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