I like to share interesting pieces of information that I come across from time to time, generally with the intention of stimulating thoughts about healthier living.

This week I listened to a podcast with a world leading neuroscientist who specialises in obesity and weight loss.  This guy spends his whole time trying to understand how we have become obese as a society and what actually works to combat it. He made some fascinating points that I’ll do my best to loosely summarise here:

  • The first meanful scientific population based weigh data we have is from the period 1890-1910.  At this point only 3% of the adult population was considered obese (this is obese with a BMI above 30, and doesn’t include those who were only considered overweight). By the late 1960’s about 12% of the population were obese.  By the early 1980’s this number had grown to nearly 30% obese.  Today, it sits at around 45% of the adult population being obese.
  • The problem with this number today, is that there is a massive number of young adults who are overweight and are “growing” into their obesity.  So, this number will continue to rise significantly over the coming years.
  • Obesity is very closely linked to increased disease and reduced life expectancy.
  • 50% of the population have a genetic predisposition to becoming obese.  However, this was also true in the late 1800’s when only 3% of the population was obese.  So, something else is the cause.
  • There are two main theories of weight gain. The first is energy balance where the total calories eaten exceed the total energy used and the balance is stored as fat.  The second is the carbohydrate-insulin model where an excess of carbohydrates (normally process ones – sugar, flour etc) causes excess secretion of insulin leading to excess storage of fat (very simplistically).  Both of these have merit to some degree and both have floors.
  • The reality is that both of these mechanisms working together are the likely cause of obesity and thus the likely solution.
  • So if we break down the data to find a cause for the obesity surge we have seen over the past 6 decades we see it  is due to the fact we are eating more food, that is denser in calories, with a much higher amount of processed carbohydrate and we are eating more often.  And if we continue to eat this way, obesity will continue to rise and we will see more and more chronic disease.

There was a lot more information in the podcast and I only mention it here because it is simple information, confirmed by a world leading expert.  And this simple information has the potential to change the quality of life of half the adult population.

As always, happy to chat with anyone who wants to know more or would like specific advice on lifestyle improvements that will make for a better, longer life.

Weight Loss, Obesity and more...

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