Consider these dieting statistics I took from Dr. Layne Norton's recent Facebook post:
We clearly don't have a weight loss problem. Many people successfully lose weight using a wide variety of diets. Unfortunately, they gain it all back, and more. It's basic thermodynamics. Less energy is input into the system, the system continues to consume energy, so the inventory of stored energy decreases. A calorie is a unit of energy measurement, and fat deposits a form of stored energy. A common theme of every successful diet is easily identified: They all restrict calories to a level below the rate that your metabolism burns calories.
So, why do we have an ever-increasing obesity epidemic? I believe the reason is the virtually unlimited supply of calories available for consumption 24 hours a day. Why do people who lose weight on diets go on to gain it all back and then gain even more? Because once that diet stops, they go back to mindless eating, and the endless calorie pipeline re-opens.
We are not adapted to an environment of unlimited of food...
Our bodies have evolved over many millions of years to survive periods of famine and scarce food supply. The ability to store excess calories as fat is one of our protective measures to combat starvation during those times. In our current environment, we never face the threat of starvation. We have the exact opposite problem, and it is a big problem — a constant over-abundance of calories.
We are not adapted to an environment of unlimited food, and we will not develop that adaptation any time soon. Low cost, energy-dense foods are abundant all hours of the day, and, thanks to food delivery services, you don't even need to leave the house to find them. The graphic above depicts the increasing size of restaurant meals over the last 66 years. Nearly every restaurant in America offers free refills on soda, because the corn syrup is so cheap. The soft drinks are virtually free. Add to that our sedentary lifestyles, and we have created a serious problem.
The Government subsidies for No. 2 field corn nearly eliminate the end-user cost. Whether these subsidies are good or bad is another discussion. The fact remains these calories are currently available at an extremely low cost. In addition to soda, hundreds of calorie-dense products are made using the subsidized No. 2 field corn. The corn syrup itself should not be blamed or even avoided; the problem is how plentiful and cheap it has become.
Fat has also been demonized, for reasons that turned out to be false. Ancel Keys was the driving force behind the anti-fat movement of the 1950s. We now know his methods were flawed, and all his claims linking fat to heart disease were untrue. Fifty-plus years of government intervention is difficult to undo, and there remains an anti-fat sentiment in our society. Fats are necessary for human life, whereas carbohydrates are not.
Let's say you take 100 people and put half on an island with carbohydrates as the only nutrient source, and the other half on an island with only fat and protein as nutrient sources. Eventually, everyone on the carb island dies of malnutrition, and everyone on the protein and fat island lives long happy lives. I'm not saying to stop eating carbs, but you could if you want too.
This idea that you can be obese and still be healthy is absurd.
The obesity problem has gotten so bad that some people have given up trying to solve it and advocate being obese. The idea of "healthy obese" is currently being pushed by certain factions of our society. This idea that you can be obese and still be healthy is absurd. It's a blatant disservice if not downright dangerous to society. Researchers from University College London have recently completed a meta-analysis of 20 years of obesity data and found the idea of healthy obese to be a myth.
It surprises me that we even had to do that analysis. Any rational person knows that being obese cannot be healthy. To propose otherwise might speak to the current state of our overly PC culture. Have we become so afraid of offending people that we should ignore the facts about being healthy? The fat acceptance movement is a real thing. Fat shaming is now a well-known victim narrative among social justice warriors. Obese people have real medical concerns that need to be addressed, not ignored, and certainly not glamorized.
A story about a woman named Monica Riley was recently trending in the news. She wants to become the fattest woman in the world. Her goal is to be immobile and 100% dependent on others. She is now a celebrity. It's sad and disgusting. This woman should not be encouraged or accepted. The children are watching us.
Is this now an acceptable role model for our children?
I can hear them now — "Oh, you're not fat, so you don't understand." That's true; I'm not fat now, but I was. Six years ago I was 40 pounds overweight and classified as obese. I understand how easy it is to consume without thinking. I had medical issues due to being overweight, and I did something about it. I went on a diet and lost the weight. I am one of the 5% of people that kept it off. It was not difficult.
We can't physically adapt to our environment of unlimited calories, so what should we do? I, like many people, successfully dieted and lost weight. However, after my initial weight loss diet, I didn't go back to my old ways and re-open the floodgates of unlimited food and drink. Today is my 1300th day in a row tracking everything I eat. You can read about my first 1234 days of tracking here. I eat plenty of carbs and fat. No foods are taboo in my diet. One thing enabled me to keep off the excess fat. I think before I eat. As I explained in my previous article, tracking my food is so simple and extremely beneficial. I decided not to be willfully ignorant about the food I consume.
If I didn't track and control my calories, I would get fat again.
Tracking is no problem if you have a smartphone in your pocket. Even with poor accuracy, the act of thinking about your intake will be enough to make positive changes. I also exercise. I lift weights for about one hour, four times per week, and walk the dog every day for 30 minutes. That's all. No big deal. I hardly ever do cardio unless it's for fun, like riding my bike on the local trails. Exercise is great, and I recommend it, but it is not the answer for losing weight and keeping it off. If I didn't track and control my calories, I would get fat again.
Along with unlimited access to calories, we also have unlimited access to information. Ignorance about diet is no longer a valid excuse. We all hear the complaints about how people just sit at a table staring at their phones and don't interact with each other. How many of them are logging their meals or looking up the nutrient facts? Probably not the obese people. Everyone knows smoking cigarettes is terrible for your health, and the smokers have become outcasts in society, forced outside to smoke, far away from the non-smokers. Nobody calls that smoke shaming. There is no smoker acceptance movement. Why don't we think about obesity the same way? We teach children not to smoke -- shouldn't we also teach them how not to overeat?