Why Are We Fat?

“Govern well thy appetite, lest Sin Surprise thee, and her black attendant, Death.”  John Milton

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Overweight man measuring waist circumference

Big. Overweight. Obese. Fat. It’s widespread and common place now. In fact it’s the norm (remember him?) rather than the exception with 63% of us living in this common place of big (see an earlier Post: Obesity is Getting Bigger). Why is it so?

The obvious answer is we’re eating too much of the wrong foods and moving less. Calories in, calories out right? An oversimplification? On the surface it looks apple pie simple but in today’s complex and interconnected world where so much information is available and shared, and ideas and theories are often twisted and misrepresented, things are not as straightforward as they seem…

Possibles and probables to consider…

Frequent reminders make it hard to hide from our appetite. With food shows now as common as crumbs in a bakery, are we thinking more and more about the stuff that goes into our mouths? Or have we “suddenly” become greedier? The latter is unlikely but what is heavily influential is the dynamics of change and the lure and power of the dollar…

We’re sedentary, stressed and busy. Entertainment systems now occupy great slabs of our time when we’re in the house, and our jobs are increasingly demanding and stressful and occupying more of our time outside the home. 1 in 2 adults are classified as inactive.

Food, especially of the calorie dense variety, surrounds. And its constant presence can make it hard for us to control what and how much we eat especially if it brings comfort. I believe we eat too much. I don’t have any hard data to back-up me up but I’m guessing most of us over consume our energy intake by at least 30%.

It seems the faster the technology, the faster we want to go too. And a fast-paced culture where so much is a blur (including our eating) only adds to stress, and in times of stress we often turn to comfort foods to bring us back and feel better.

Bad food is generally cheap, well-promoted and engineered to record high on the Richter scale of taste. As I type, an unspeakably desirable, huge hamburger fills the TV screen. Processed food loaded with refined sugars and bad fats are a huge contributor to our fattening. Heavily advertised and almost universal on the shelves, you only have to walk into one of the leading supermarkets and inspect the isles that lie within the centre of the store, and be overwhelmed. Processed, processed, processed. Don’t enter hungry. It’s a sea of sugar, stream of salt and flotilla of fat that’s designed to tempt and tempt some more. One particularly unhealthy isle is dominated with soft drink, chips, salted beer nuts and crackers. Another is a temporary home to confectionery, chocolate and enough biscuits to feed a thousand Cookie Monsters. The garbage that goes into our gut is for all to see. Not too bright to eat lots of this stuff people.

On the flip side, healthy food is rarely promoted and tends to be more expensive. When was the last time you saw basic broccoli, trendy quinoa and buckwheat or old-fashioned cabbage advertised?

Antibiotics fatten livestock and can do the same to us, and we have a propensity to overuse them and over-eat meat. Antibiotic-residue in meat (cue Homer Simpson voice)… mmmm.

Speaking of overeating, does supersize comes to mind? If it does and if you’re one to seriously pig-out at the flicks and beyond, you can thank Mr. David Wallerstein for the mega popcorn and dinosaur-size drinks that overfill your belly.

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Wallerstein’s legacy?

People are confused. Carbohydrates are the villain! No they’re not, it’s fats. Protein is the good guy. No he isn’t. Eat like a caveman. Wrong, it’s the lite-and-easy way. And so on. This dietary maze is so bewildering that people blindly stumble in a never-ending search for the exit from calories. When it comes to what we should and shouldn’t eat there is remarkable diversity in the human organism and for that reason alone, no one diet fits all. Anyways, I don’t believe in calorie restriction and that’s how many of us view diets… as calorie restrictive. The many, many diets over the years have done little to cure our obesity other than to fill the maze with more dead ends and make a select few mega wealthy. I’m going to dumb it all down, right here and now, thanks to a snippet I read online years ago… “If it come from a plant, eat it, if it was made in a plant, don’t.” Simple advice.

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Diet industry dead ends are plentiful

I’m half-surprised that anyone is slim. We’re moving less, our environment is rich with toxic food, we’re stressed to the gills, food messages received are commonly from the yellow arches mob and kin folk, and the nutritional wisdom bestowed to us from the dietary gurus is often conflicting and maze-confusing. Combine that with inherited genetics that allowed our ancestors to efficiently convert food into fat and then hang on to it; fantastic during times of famine and scarcity but not so dandy when cafes cling to every street corner like Spiderman.  And lastly, what about those extra hungry individuals whose biological drive to eat is stronger than the norm (no, not Norm)? Times are tough if you’re inclined to pack it on.

Now Jurassic-size me with the triple-decker jumbo works and then pass the remote and ipad.

Get healthy. Eat smart. Train smart.

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