Overcoming Obesity: Genes Load the Gun, Environment Pulls the Trigger

By February 23, 2016Ideas, Insights

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Genes load the gun, environment pulls the trigger.” — Dr. Scott Kahan

While about half of obesity can be attributed to our genes, and there’s evidence of thrifty genes, it is the Obesogenic Environment or “Toxic Environment” that may be the real culprit.
We are surrounded on all sides by energy-dense, heavily advertised, inexpensive, convenient foods. Paired with “Western” lifestyles that have little need for physical labor, car dependency, and the seductive nature of sedentary activities like TV and computers, our physical activity just doesn’t match our caloric intake. Even lights, computer screens and modern business that interfere with our sleep mess with our metabolism.

Advancing the Treatment of Obesity

Calories In, Calories Out? It’s Not So Simple

Dr.David Ludwig believes we may have our thinking about obesity backward:

What if we’ve confused cause and effect? What if it’s not overeating that causes us to get fat, but the process of getting fatter that causes us to overeat?”

Ludwig and Friedman developed an alternative model for obesity known as the Ludwig Model:Overcoming Obesity
Negative metabolic feedback loops: We know many people can lose weight by decreasing calories and increasing physical activity. This is the “calories-in, calories-out” model, or the Prevailing Model in the image above. Recent research shows us it’s not that simple. Sugar-rich diets, sleep deprivation, thrifty genes, and less activity create more body fat. And more fat storage results in less circulating fuels. As a result people who are overweight and obese develop a more efficient metabolism (BMR), compounded by more lethargy, and more hunger. It’s a painful Catch 22.

If people try to eat less and exercise more, they are probably setting themselves up for failure because metabolism wins.” — Dr. Ludwig

Eliminate Added Sugar

One in five people eat one cup of added sugars a day. Every day.
We can’t do anything to change our genes but we now know that added, refined sugars are particularly unhealthy for people. Many people at the unhealthiest weights consume the most sugar: 20% of us eat an alarming 721 calories from added sugar every day. At 16 calories a teaspoon, 721 calories adds up to almost one cup of sugar. And most of us have 22 teaspoons a day when the limit is no more than 10 teaspoons.
Sneaky Sugars: The only way to eliminate added sugar is to read the labels. It is hiding everywhere, not just obvious culprits like soda and sweet tea, but in sneaky places too, like bread and yogurt. Read the label and check the ingredients list for things like “fruit juice concentrate”, honey, molasses, and corn syrup and ingredients ending in “ose”. They are all added sugars.
Overcoming ObesitySource: http://www.obesity.org/news/press-releases/us-adult

When you eat a lot of refined carbs, like say, a 100-calorie pack of Oreos, it causes a surge of insulin that will trigger your fat cells to soak up calories—but there are not enough calories and nutrients to provide the energy that our bodies need. The brain recognizes this discrepancy and triggers a hunger response that also slows our metabolism. We are then going to want to eat more.” — Dr. Ludwig

Dr. Tom Warshawski adds a caution about focusing on sugar alone.

There is no doubt that simple carbs promote weight gain. Simple carbs to stay away from include white flour, white bread, white rice, potatoes and sugar. However eating pizza and nuts every day will also make many people overweight. So eat lots of unprocessed plant food – fruits, vegetables, pulses, whole grains, and a moderate amount of nuts and lean meats. Of course portion size matters too.”

Where we all agree is that instead of counting calories we need to focus on the quality of the food we consume.

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