Why Obesity?

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Do you believe that obesity is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended? If you do, then you’re in agreement with the long standing conclusion of obesity science, which revolves around the balance principle, i.e., “People get fat because they take in more calories than they expend. They stay lean when they don’t.”

Or perhaps you might agree with the philosophy that was popular in the decades between the World Wars that … “some people are born predisposed to accumulate excess fat just as some are predestined to grow tall.”

According to this article, you would be mistaken on both counts. 

The article author writes that he would have agreed with the balance principle “if the prevalence of obesity had not risen relentlessly for the past half century — along with type 2 diabetes” to the extent that is has become the dominant non-Covid health crisis of our time. 

That’s why he and 16 other academic researchers put together a report in September 2021 entitled, The carbohydrate-insulin model: a physiological perspective on the obesity pandemic. In the Abstract of the report it is noted thus:

According to a commonly held view, the obesity pandemic is caused by overconsumption of modern, highly palatable, energy-dense processed foods, exacerbated by a sedentary lifestyle. However, obesity rates remain at historic highs, despite a persistent focus on eating less and moving more, as guided by the energy balance model (EBM). Conceptualizing obesity as a disorder of energy balance restates a principle of physics without considering the biological mechanisms that promote weight gain. An alternative paradigm, the carbohydrate-insulin model (CIM), proposes a reversal of causal direction.

(NOTE: At the time of this blog post, only the abstract is available.) 

These researchers argue that the energy-in/energy-out conception of weight regulation is fatally, tragically flawed … that obesity is not an energy balance disorder, but a hormonal or constitutional disorder.

In other words, “people don’t get fat because they eat too much, consuming more calories than they expend, but because the carbohydrates in their diets — both the quantity of carbohydrates and their quality — establish a hormonal milieu that fosters the accumulation of excess fat.”

As many have noted, along with the article’s author, obesity in the U.S. has risen over the past several years. In fact, more than 40% of Americans live with it today as compared to 12% sixty years ago. What has caused this dramatic rise? Is it nature or nurture? Is it behavior or physiology? 

Another website related to this topic asks the question: “Is Obesity a Disease?” and provides some Pro and Con arguments where …

Proponents contend that obesity is a disease because it meets the definition of disease; it decreases life expectancy and impairs the normal functioning of the body; and it can be caused by genetic factors.

Opponents contend that obesity is not a disease because it is a preventable risk factor for other diseases; is the result of eating too much; and is caused by exercising too little.

And finally, this article provides a look at 10 foods that overweight people regularly eat.

If you are one of the fortunate individuals who has never experienced problems with weight gain, then none of this information may be relevant. But since statistics indicate MANY people do have regular battles with the bathroom scales, such information may very well be eye-opening.

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Image by Memed_Nurrohmad from Pixabay

18 thoughts on “Why Obesity?

  1. Part of the reason obesity has “risen” in America is because the diet industry has successfully lobbied the medical community to lower the parameters of what is considered obese, so that many people, including children (who may outgrow this) who are merely overweight, are now labeled “obese”.

    & they use that idiotic BMI chart which has nothing to do with fitness … it doesn’t measure your muscle mass, for instance. Many of us are heavy but we’re heavy with muscle, not fat. Muscle weighs more than fat.

    This is also true with cholesterol levels, which have been lowered to the point where many of us are now told routinely that we have “dangerously” high cholesterol, requiring medication that has terrible side effects. Many of these meds have side effects that mimic dementia. Since so many older people have “cholesterol” issues & are on these meds, nobody ever questions when suddenly Mom or Dad or Auntie Ann develops dementia … hey, they’re old, that’s what happens, right?

    It’s all about money … making people go on diets that don’t work … making people take meds that only make Big Pharma rich .. not the population healthy.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I once read a while back that child obesity was almost unheard of in China. After trade agreements were ratified between China and the US it didn’t take long before companies like MacDonald’s and Kentucky established a foothold.
      You can guess what happened within a few years, can’t you?

      Liked by 1 person

        • Nan and others, a British colleague who was the global wellness practice leader for my firm used to tell my US based clients that America’s greatest export is obesity. Between fast food and purposeful use of addictive sugar in many products, America’s eating habits are poor – we have been at or near the top of the list of most obese countries. We are future train wrecks waiting to happen unless we act to get to more sustainable weight. Keith

          Liked by 2 people

    • Your conclusion definitely plays a role … and I would take it a step further. What are the food products that get the most exposure? Snack foods!

      Recently I saw a picture of two women who were in a store buying “food” after one of the recent disaster events. I’ll let you use your imagination and guess what they were buying …

      Like

  2. In my thirties I stood 6′ tall, and weighed 135 lbs. I ate crap food and drank crap liquids. I could not put on a lb no matter how hard I tried. Then I got married to a woman who cooked healthy foods. I blossomed to 200 lbs in no time. So much for the eating more than you use theory. I cycled about 40 miles a day, worked my ass off in a warehouse, and walked two or three miles most every night.
    Then I got sick with ulcerative colitis, but the doctors did not diagnose it for four years because I blossomed again to 260 lbs. With colitis a person is supposed to lose weight drastically.
    Obesity has many causes, and cannot be pinned down to one thing. If you ask me, much of it is all the hormones and other unnatural junk they put into our food supply that causes most obesity problens these days. I’m back down to 200 lbs now in my 70s, but I could stand to lose another 20 lbs. I am diabetic type II, I have heart problems, bowel problems in what I have left of my small bowel, and this is where my problems lie, in my opinion.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Aside from becoming vegetarian I can’t say my eating habits have changed that much, (quantities, meal times etc) and yet I have increased from around 65/70 kgs to 82kgs, since I ran my last ultra marathon.
    Muscle tone definitely goes out the window when one doesn’t take regular exercise.

    Based on where the weight has mostly accumulated – my stomach – ) have to put it down to sugar. I do drink a lot of coffee.
    And processed foods are a killer – literally!

    Another good reason to grow your own veg where you can!
    Even a few things in pots helps.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nan, great post. While we each have our own body style, your first quote about relative calorie intake and use the key, in my view. After yo-yoing for years, I finally have been able to get to a sustainable weight over the last five years. For me, what worked is small daily workouts and portion control. I still graze throughout the day, but I eat less at each meal and with my snacks.

    It is funny, I was watching Kelly and Ryan have an exercise coach on their show. After showing a few exercises, the coach responded to Kelly’s question that maintaining weight is 80% food intake and 20% exercise. Hearing these words from an exercise coach had greater meaning to me.

    Keith

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think the researchers could be on to something. I have seen guys who can eat loads and they remain slender or is it skinny. I also know of others who just balloon. Then I know myself. I lost weight mainly through regular exercise and cutting my portions but I didn’t exclude anything from my diet except sugar in tea. I am a sweet tooth, I haven’t yet found cake or ice cream that I would pass if I was offered.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Ice cream is one of my most favorite foods!! However, over the years as the body has aged and tended to “reform” itself, I’ve had to cut waaay back. But I’ve not given it up entirely. I now eat cream popsicles that are (reportedly) only 100 calories/3 grams fat per bar. I admit it did take some “adjustment” after enjoying the rich creamy goodness of real ice cream. But my body thanks me every time I step on the scales, so I’ve learned to live with it.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. The key point any explanation needs to address is the change in just a couple of generations. Look at typical pictures of crowds or groups of people in the US in the 1950s and 1960s and compare them with what typical groups of Americans look like today. Typical weight is so much worse now then then that they almost don’t look like the same species. It’s certainly not genetics. Genes don’t change that fast.

    Liked by 1 person

    • IMO, there are a couple of reasons behind excessive weight gain. One is the additives being put in pretty much all foods … and the other, more prevalent reason, is one’s CHOICE of foods. Fast foods (McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell) too often comprise the main meal of the day. And a peek in the average family’s cupboards will show bags of chips, cookies, candies, etc.

      The “experts” may deny or downplay the correlation between food intake and activity — and it’s entirely possible there’s more to it than that — but IMO, it still plays a VERY big role.

      Like

      • Oh, definitely. Last year, after I gave up the last animal-derived foods I had still been eating (cheese, eggs, and the like) as well as most processed foods, I lost thirty pounds. This year, after slipping and going back to some of the processed stuff, I’ve gained some of it back, though nothing like as much as I originally lost. It is all about making the right choices, which can be difficult in an environment awash in garbage.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. We are all different. I do not have answers.

    For Ark, I have never seen an overweight person at either the start or finish line of a marathon, unless they were staff or family of runners.

    I recently completed three months of cardio rehab (exercise). I told the staff (exercise physiologists) that if many of these other patients do not lose a significant amount of weight (I don’t care how, but they need to do it now), they are wasting their time. They will not drop the weight with exercise. They either need to eat differently (vastly) of take another form of drastic action. If not, they will die much sooner than necessary.

    I was essentially preaching to the choir and I suppose the morbidly obese patients knew it anyway. I know they hear it from their doctors. Dieticians are probably begging them, although I am sure that every dietician on staff supports the traditional dietary schemes.

    I hope the final report is written in some way that normal people can understand it.

    And yes, if I buy one pint of ice cream, I will have gained 20lbs by the time I get home. NOT FAIR!

    Liked by 1 person

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