Increased Intestinal Permeability Shown in Obesity

There are an uncountable number of things that may contribute to obesity.  We also don’t have a good understanding of the causes of metabolic syndrome and why some people develop it and others don’t.

In this study of a small number of women (20 in the lean group, 20 in the obese group), there was increased intestinal permeability in the obese women.

Note that this study shows correlation, not causation.  That is, this does not indicate whether:

  • obesity increases the chance of developing higher intestinal permeability
  • higher intestinal permeability increases the chance of becoming or remaining obese, or
  • these two things happen together from some common cause.

In addition, the study showed that those with higher intestinal permeability tended to be those with indicators of metabolic syndrome.  Again, this study reports correlation and does not provide insight on causation.

Their Conclusions:

We demonstrated that intestinal permeability parameters in obese women are positively correlated with anthropometric measurements and metabolic variables. Therapeutic interventions focused on intestine health and the modulation of intestinal permeability should be explored in the context of obesity.

Intestinal permeability parameters in obese patients are correlated with metabolic syndrome risk factors.

Teixeira TF, Souza NC, Chiarello PG, Franceschini SC, Bressan J, Ferreira CL, Peluzio MD.   Clin Nutr. 2012 Mar 21. [Epub ahead of print]

PMID: 22444236

NOTE:  I did not read the full article (it is not open access).

Normal Weight but At Risk

High Blood Sugar, Diabetes and High Blood Pressure in People of Normal Weight

Dr. Mark Hyman has written well on this topic in his new post “Skinny Fat People: Why Being Skinny Doesn’t Protect Us Against Diabetes and Death”.

In this article, he incorporates findings from the research paper below.  I had re-tweeted (from Emily Deans MD) about this study a few days ago and was just about to write a post on it, but Dr. Hyman has this covered.  This is the link to the free full text of the research paper.

Pediatrics. 2012 May 21. [Epub ahead of print]

Prevalence of Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors Among US Adolescents, 1999-2008.


aDivisions of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity and.



Overweight and obesity during adolescence are associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors. The objective of this study was to examine the recent trends in the prevalence of selected biological CVD risk factors and the prevalence of these risk factors by overweight/obesity status among US adolescents.


The NHANES is a cross-sectional, stratified, multistage probability sample survey of the US civilian, noninstitutionalized population. The study sample included 3383 participants aged 12 to 19 years from the 1999 through 2008 NHANES.


Among the US adolescents aged 12 to 19 years, the overall prevalence was 14% for prehypertension/hypertension, 22% for borderline-high/high low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, 6% for low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (<35 mg/dL), and 15% for prediabetes/diabetes during the survey period from 1999 to 2008. No significant change in the prevalence of prehypertension/hypertension (17% and 13%) and borderline-high/high low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (23% and 19%) was observed from 1999-2000 to 2007-2008, but the prevalence of prediabetes/diabetes increased from 9% to 23%. A consistent dose-response increase in the prevalence of each of these CVD risk factors was observed by weight categories: the estimated 37%, 49%, and 61% of the overweight, obese, and normal-weight adolescents, respectively, had at least 1 of these CVD risk factors during the 1999 through 2008 study period.


The results of this national study indicate that US adolescents carry a substantial burden of CVD risk factors, especially those youth who are overweight or obese.   PMID: 22614778  (added emphasis mine)

It is very telling to read the full report.  In there you will find a chart of the results.  This chart includes important results that are not clearly expressed anywhere in the written report. That is, some of the numbers are only reported in visual form on the chart.

From this chart, one can see that 13% of the children who were classed as normal body weight had pre-diabetes or diabetes! (That is about 1 in every 8.)

OK, let me repeat that 10 times! (Or, I can just hope you might pretend I did.)

Imagine how many kids this would have been if Jenny Ruhl’s criteria for non-damaging blood sugar levels had been used (not a snowball’s chance on that).

Mark Hyman goes on to report:

A surgeon friend of mine recently told me that even in people of normal weight, he found belly’s full of fat – caked around their colon, liver, kidneys, and draped over all their organs.  This is caused by our industrial diet full of high fructose corn syrup, added sugars, trans-fats, flour and processed food.

Dr. Hyman’s full post includes much more than this and is well worth the read.

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