Recently, a reader sent along Gina Kolata’s article from the New York Times discussing some obesity myths that are not news to us, exactly, but good to see in print nevertheless. I think I read it before, but really, it was worth reading again.
Many of the so-called facts about obesity… amount to speculation or oversimplification of the medical evidence. Diet and exercise do matter… but these environmental influences alone do not determine an individual’s weight. Body composition also is dictated by DNA and monitored by the brain. Bypassing these physical systems is not just a matter of willpower.
What has really stuck with me from this article is the misconception that it is our modern diet that is to blame for the increase in obesity; when in reality, our modern diet might not be all that bad in comparison with the diets from the Mad Men years.
“The meals we romanticize in the past somehow leave out the reality of what people were eating,” [Dr. Barry Glassner] said. “The average meal had whole milk and ended with pie…. The typical meal had plenty of fat and calories. Nostalgia is going to get us nowhere.”
Emphasis mine. The article goes on to discuss the imprecise nature of calorie counting and of course, the idea of the set point:
The body’s determination to maintain its composition is why a person can skip a meal, or even fast for short periods, without losing weight. It’s also why burning an extra 100 calories a day will not alter the verdict on the bathroom scales. Struggling against the brain’s innate calorie counters, even strong-willed dieters make up for calories lost on one day with a few extra bites on the next. And they never realize it. “The system operates with 99.6 percent precision.”
I think this article is a great starting point for people who don’t quite understand why “eat less and move more” is an oversimplification. (The headless fatty and chocolate chip cookie pictures at the top notwithstanding.)
Thanks to Meredith for the link!
Posted by mo pie