Sugar? Carbs? Inactivity? What Is Causing The Obesity Crisis?

Everywhere you look these days, there is a vast amount of information on obesity and weight loss. Most of it makes very scary reading.

A few days ago I was listening to the UK’s leading expert on obesity, Susan Jebb OBE, on Radio 4’s The Life Scientific. She is a nutrition scientist, and the Professor of Diet and Population Health at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford; she is also the UK Government’s advisor on obesity in the United Kingdom. One of the headline things I learnt from listening to the interview, is that her many years of research on human metabolism has proved without a doubt that you “cannot get fat without eating too much”. Metabolism is a bit of a red herring in her view and energy intake is KEY: she said that ultimately, obesity is about food intake. Other factors (physical exercise, metabolism etc) play a relatively small role. She did make the very encouraging point though, that a fairly small weight loss  (she gave an example of losing 4kgs which is less than a stone) significantly lowers the risk of diabetes in those predisposed to the disease.

Prof Susan Jebb

Professor Susan Jebb

Obesity and being overweight affects all the organs in the body detrimentally (as well as joints) and is undoubtedly the biggest health threat to the nation.  Another frightening statistic I heard this week was that £1 in every £5 spent by the NHS is as a result of people’s poor lifestyle choices – over-eating, smoking, too much alcohol, drug-taking and inactivity.

One of Prof Jebb’s pieces of research which particularly interests me (in relation to The Side Plate Diet) is entitled, Is plate clearing a risk factor for obesity? A cross-sectional study of self-reported data in US adults. The conclusion was that

….. the tendency to clear one’s plate when eating is associated with increased body weight and may constitute a risk factor for weight gain.

You can read it in full here: http://www.phc.ox.ac.uk/publications/502174

I was on a bit of a research roll at this point, so I also watched the US documentary film, “Fed Up”, about the US food industry. One of the many ideas the film posited was the view that you cannot exercise your way out of being overweight. Physical exercise of course has benefits to your overall health but weight is mainly about the types of food we are eating.The film was jam-packed full of deeply worrying statistics (the growth of Type 2 Diabetes in pre-teens in the US being one) but the main thrust was the very great danger of eating too much sugar, and to some extent, sugar substitutes which have the effect of making you crave more sugary foods. (Note to self: Diet Coke may not be as harmless as it looks).

Sugar , according to the film, is the new tobacco.

Fed Up movie

Today, the following research has made the news, via the British Journal of Sports Medicine

Excess sugar and carbs, not physical inactivity, are behind the surge in obesity.

It’s time to bust the myth that anyone—and that includes athletes—can outrun a bad diet.

Regular exercise is key to staving off serious disease, such as diabetes, heart disease, and dementia, write the authors, but our calorie laden diets now generate more ill-health than physical inactivity, alcohol, and smoking combined. Read more here:

http://press.psprings.co.uk/bjsm/april/bjsm094911.pdf

If you still have a sense of humour after reading that round-up, have a look at Homer Simpson main-lining sugar:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzhIagCwUUc

Homer Simpson

Happy eating!

Annie Bee x

Annie Bee signature

It’s Prestigious To Be Busy + Walking

I was listening to Ruby Wax being interviewed on Radio 4 last weekend  – an exhausting woman  (I was driving at the time and almost had to pull over and have a little rest)  – and she said, “It is prestigious to be busy these days” and she did not mean it kindly. So true. If you are not standing up (Sitting Down Is The New Smoking) you risk becoming a social pariah. I hear there are people lap-topping away on a treadmill as I write (attached to a string around their neck, like glasses perhaps?).

What’s it all about?

As I mentioned in a previous post about Calories In, Calories Out, you will know (we all know) that activity is very important to helping and maintaining weight-loss, and combining exercise into your life is the best way of doing this. Every magazine/newspaper  I read tackles the subject ceaselessly  and it is a very big business (in the UK alone the diet business is thought to be worth £2bn). You might be sick to death of hearing about it, but the great news for all of us, but particularly for women over 50, is that walking is fine.This information is from The Guardian :

“Brisk walking reduces the risk of heart disease more effectively than running when the energy expenditure of both activities is balanced out, a study has found.

Researchers compared data from two studies of 33,060 runners and 15,045 walkers. For the same amount of energy used, walkers experienced greater health benefits than runners.

The effects on participants, who were aged 18 to 80, were observed over a period of six years.

Running reduced the risk of heart disease by 4.5% while walking reduced it by 9.3%.

Calorie for calorie, walking also had a stronger impact on heart disease risk factors. The risk of first-time high blood pressure was reduced by 4.2% by running and 7.2% by walking.

First-time high cholesterol risk was lowered by 4.3% by running and 7% by walking.

The risk of first-time diabetes was reduced by about 12% by both walking and running.

“Walking and running provide an ideal test of the health benefits of moderate-intensity walking and vigorous-intensity running because they involve the same muscle groups and the same activities performed at different intensities,” said study leader Dr Paul Williams, from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.

“The more the runners ran, and the walkers walked, the better off they were in health benefits. If the amount of energy expended was the same between the two groups, then the health benefits were comparable.

“People are always looking for an excuse not to exercise but now they have a straightforward choice to run or to walk and invest in their future health.”

The research is reported in the American Heart Association journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology”. 

This is fabulous news for people like me for whom The “R” Word (as my beautiful friend Christine used to call it) does not tend to fit into their daily list of exercise. But we can all have a brisk walk and indeed very recent research from the University of Cambridge suggests that just 20 minutes a day has a big impact http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jan/14/scientists-recommend-20-minute-daily-walk-premature-death

Hooray! Cancel my order for that treadmill for the study; no need to pretend that I can see a computer screen while on the move. And have a good look at Ms Beckham’s shoes below. Someone needs to have a word. It will end in tears.

treadmill work 2    treadmill pic

And finally, I can highly recommend the Nike+Running App (ignore The “R” Word) https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/nike-gps/id387771637?mt=8.  I use it mainly to check how far I have gone and it keeps a record of the walks which I find very motivating.
Happy walking!

green bee for signature copy

Annie Bee x

https://uk.pinterest.com/buzzanniebee/exercise-work/