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Scott Kahan Part 3, Diet and Genetics Effect on Obesity

In part 3 of this Exclusive Interview, Dr. Scott Kahan talks with Diabetes in Control Associate Medical Editor Joy Pape during the AACE 2018 convention in Boston, MA about the differences between what is consumed and genetics as they impact health outcomes.

Scott Kahan, MD, MPH is the Director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness in Washington, D.C.

Transcript of this video segment:

Pape: So, something comes up sometimes and people say, “Well if I eat this, won’t it raise my cholesterol?” Let’s say low-carb – you’re looking at triglycerides. Or sometimes people do go on low-fat and their lipids raise. How do you answer that question of how much is really about what they eat and how much is really about what their body makes?

Kahan: I think there are a few parts of this. You just hit the head on the main one. Genetics drives so much of our health outcomes that we have some agency over our health outcomes, of course, but a lot of it is driven by our genetics. So, someone who has a propensity towards very high cholesterol levels, no matter how much they run and no matter how healthy they eat, they may not be able to bring it down to a clinically ideal level. Therefore, they may, for example, need a statin medication or the like and we can think of many permutations of that but genetics are very important.

Now, the other part of that question is a lot of people come in with various beliefs that are positive and negative about what different dietary patterns can do both positively, but also, in terms of risk. I always try to go back to the published data on that. We have very good published data that, the Atkins-type diets to low-carb-type diets, are not going to raise your cholesterol through the roof. Some people will respond badly, but on average, they actually do quite good in terms of lipid control. And same thing with low-fat diets, on the whole, they’re very healthful as well. So, helping people understand the vast research that has been done I think goes a long way in terms of empowering them to work on some steps that they can make in their life.

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