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.
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.
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:
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
Annie Bee x