My favorite palindrome is: Doc note I dissent a fast never prevents a fatness I diet on cod
It is largely unchallenged conventional wisdom that the cause of the “obesity epidemic” is couch potato-ism and fast food, but there is almost no research to support this as a causal link.
I am a fat man, with two fat sisters, born of fat parents, and have been engaged in trying to control my weight most of my life. What I have noticed as the most significant, if ironic, cause of weight gain, is dieting.
A recent study at Yale, found that the perception alone that a milkshake was “reduced calorie” caused not only reports of reduced satiety, but also caused the of the hormone ghrelin to remain at high levels. Ghrelin is one of the hormones responsible for mediating our appetites, and it generally falls after eating and rises when we are hungry. In the study, subjects were given two milkshakes, a week apart, to avoid their memory of the taste affecting the results, after which their ghrelin levels were checked via bloodtests.
The two milkshakes were identical, but the subjects were told in one case that the milkshake was indulgent, and in the other that is was low calorie. Just the perception that they were drinking a low calorie milkshake caused their ghrelin level to remain elevated, where as when they thought the milkshake was high calorie, their ghrelin levels fell, and they reported satiety.
McDonalds opened in 1955, even before that, “meat and potatoes” was the dietary norm, and health food and health clubs were almost non-existence fringe phenomena. It was the industrial revolution over a century earlier that resulted in our sedentary lifestyles, not the prevalence of TV or fast food beginning in the fifties. In the first three quarters of the twentieth century, Americans led sedentary lives and ate high-fat, high-carb food, and yet were mostly normal-weighted.
So if these commonly cited changes in the lifestyles or diet had already taken place long before the 70’s when obesity rates began to rise steeply, what did happen in the early 70’s that could account for this?
In 1971 the results of one of the most comprehensive, long term and carefully designed studies on the state of Americans’ heath was released. It was the results from the first generation of the Framingham study. The results were so significant and clear, that there has been an ongoing rise in public heath programs urging increased exercise and low-fat diets to combat the high cardiovascular risk Americans face.
In fact, I suspect these obesity rates are probably an unintended consequence of the Framingham recommendations, and are best correlated with increased efforts to diet and restrict fat and calorie intake. It may be that the more you perceive yourself as deprived, and even more seriously, the m,ore deprived you actually are, the harder your body tries to store calories by putting on weight.
My own personal experience has been that every time I have gone through a period of dieting with high calorie restrictions, I have eventually ended up heavier after than before. I have heard the same story from numerous other fat folk as well as from many of the clinicians who treat them. The availability of low cal food and all manner of exercise clubs, machines and techniques are at an all time high and rising, exactly in step with the rising obesity rates. This may not bode well for a solution to this, since all the advice being given seems to be for people to deprive not only themselves, but their children.