Why are thin people “fatter” than they used to be?
Why is morbid obesity, type 2 diabetes—and even sex reversalis fish species—becoming common?
…Is something pervading our environment that is making us fatter?
Traditionally, we look at overeating and underexercising as the main contributors to the obesity epidemic. Diet and exercise are deemed to be the solutions to the problem. Maybe we are overlooking other factors? Do we need to pay attention to new research on “obesogens”?
Obesogens are chemical compounds found in food, drugs, and industrial products (like plastics) that may alter metabolic processes and predispose some people to gain weight. These compounds may contribute to more and bigger fat cells. Exposure to these compounds in utero may explain (in part) why childhood obesity is on the rise, why even thin people are “fatter” than they used to be, and why morbid obesity, type 2 diabetes, and sex reversal in fish species is on the rise.
Clearly, we need to explore all possible factors that contribute to weight issues, not just diet and exercise. Some of these factors include looking at ways to reduce potential environmental obesogens that might be in plastics, canned goods, nonstick cookware, air fresheners, laundry products, and personal care products. Obesogens may be yet another reason to eat less processed foods, particularly those that come packaged in plastic or cans. The research is in its infancy, so stay tuned—and until we know more, start eating more foods that are minimally processed!
Sleeps is restorative and is needed to align circadian rhythms. Sleep deprivation erodes well being. Speaking at the SCAN Sports Nutrition Conference (Baltimore, April ,2012), Allison Weiss BS reported that Americans are sleeping less than they used to sleep:
--Nearly 30% of adults report sleeping less than 6 hours per day.
--80% of teens report getting less than the recommended nine hours of sleep.
This lack of sleep is having detrimental effects on our health.
Obesity and sleep deprivation are concurrent issues; sleep seems to be a risk factor for obesity. One in four post-menopausal women has problems sleeping; is this linked to mid-life weight gain? When people are tired, grehlin—the hormone that makes us feel hungry—becomes active and we become hungrier and can easily overeat.
Sleep deprivation is also associated with development of Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. People younger than 60 years who sleep less than five hours a night have a higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease.
Athletes who travel through time zones are at high risk for sleep deprivation. This can impact performance by disrupting the circadian rhythms and causing undue fatigue and reduced motivation. Because mental alertness enhances athletic performance, low motivation can be detrimental to performance. On the other hand, extending sleep can enhance performance. A study with basketball players indicates they shot more baskets and completed more free throws when they were well rested (as opposed to sleep deprived).
The standard supermarket diet is rich in sugar, saturated fat, and sodium. You know, ice cream, frozen pizzas, chips, cookies, canned soups, Lunchables, mac ‘n cheese in a box/can/freezer… the list is overwhelmingly endless. Perhaps you are all too familiar with some of these goodies?
Research suggests that people aren’t the only critters who like these foods. So do rats! In fact, supermarket foods can cause obesity in rats. That is, rats who were fed their standard rat chow maintained a normal weight. But when researchers fed the rats supermarket foods, they ended up overweight—that is, until the researchers took away the supermarket foods. The rats then lost weight when they returned to eating rat chow.
There's little doubt that fats, sugar, and salt stimulate us to eat more than we need! Hence, your best bet is to eat closer to the earth by choosing more unprocessed foods that have little or no added sugar and salt, and hopefully less saturated fat. When you go food shopping, try to shop primarily on the perimeter of the store, where you can find the fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and lowfat dairy foods.
Of course, you can find healthy foods in cans, jars, and boxes. But try to make more of your meals from fresh ingredients. You’ll help yourself manage your weight more easily, ad also please the local farmers who want you to buy their produce.
Do the health benefits of fitness overpower the health problems of fatness? Yes, to a certain extent. People who are physically fit live longer than unfit people. Fitness helps counter fatness, but not completely--
Data from 650,000 people who were followed for 10 years indicates physically fit but obese people live longer than unfit obese -- but fit-obese do not live as long as fit-lean people.
Compared to active-lean people, here’s how much shorter your life will be if you are obese:
-- 3.2 years earlier death for the active-obese
-- 4.1 years earlier death for the inactive-lean
-- 6.0 years earlier death for inactive-obese.
Even if you are fit, you still need to be active throughout the day, not just during the one hour of purposeful exercise. Fit people who sit too much hurt their health, so try not to be a sedentary athlete! Park your car in the far end of the lot. Take the stairs, not the elevator, etc.
If you (or your loved-ones) are in the unfit-inactive-obese category, get active! Small steps contribute to a healthier, higher quality life-journey.
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