The Impetus Behind America’s Obesity Epidemic and a Novel Remedy
Obesity is a serious chronic disease and has become increasingly prevalent over the past thirty plus years. In 1990, no U.S. state’s obesity rate exceeded 14%. By 2010, thirty-six states reported obesity rates of 25% or higher, with twelve states above 30%. Currently, all fifty states report obesity rates of 20% or higher. Forty-three states’ rates surpass 25% and twenty of these states’ rates exceed 30%.
Recent research (see official source below) reveals that overeating, rather than insufficient exercise, has fueled these staggering statistics. Dr. Boyd Swinburn, the Chair of Population Health and Director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Obesity Prevention at Deakin University in Australia, asserts that overconsumption accounts for the weight gain that Americans have experienced from the 1970s to the 2000s. Dr. Swinburn’s study examined weight trends in children and adults. The research results showed that excessive caloric intake explained 100% and 80% of the weight gain in the former and latter groups.
Evidently, overeating largely fuels the U.S. obesity epidemic. The United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (USDA ERS) provides further proof and insight into the foods that cause America’s weight gain. The USDA ERS’ report indicates that compared to 1970, Americans in 2010 ate an extra 500 calories per day. The disproportionate intake of processed and refined grains and added fats and oils drove this increase. Take a moment to consider this. An extra 500 calories per day equals 182,500 additional calories per year. Therefore, if you weigh 120 lbs and start to eat an extra 500 calories daily for 365 days, you could gain 52 lbs!
Consuming less, particularly of unwholesome fare, is clearly key to overcoming America’s obesity epidemic. And if your trainer or gym buddy encourages you to eat small meals throughout the day so as to supposedly bolster your metabolism, stave off hunger, and ultimately reduce consumption, this strategy will fail. According to the journal Obesity, eating several small meals rather than three big ones per day does not, first and foremost, enhance your metabolism or fat oxidation. Second, the study reported that eating more frequently actually intensifies hunger and the “desire to eat,” which over time could cause weight gain. So, eating three meals per day is better. Still, another option is best – alternate-day fasting (ADF).
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition asserts that ADF is healthful and naturally facilitates weight loss. People approach ADF, also called intermittent fasting, in various ways. Some skip breakfast or dinner occasionally or even daily, eating only twice per day. Others fast an entire day once a week or more often. Of course ADF does not preclude drinking liquids—water, herbal tea, fresh-squeezed juices ,etc.— and you can tailor it to fit your needs and lifestyle.
While ADF may sound outlandish or extreme, some experts assert that it is simple common sense. Early humans did not have constant access to food. Rather, they experienced times of feast and famine and ate unadulterated foods; consequently, our ancient ancestors did not suffer from chronic diseases caused by lifestyle choices as Americans do now. Today’s culture breeds and encourages gluttony and excess while ADF supports moderation, self-control, discipline, and most importantly overall wellness.
Research shows that fasting actually safeguards your health. It increases HDL (good cholesterol), decreases triglycerides (fats in the blood), and enhances the body’s ability to burn fat and breakdown fatty acids. No one ever died of ADF; however, obesity and its related ills, such as heart disease, have robbed the lives of millions.
Whether you desire to lose weight or obtain greater vitality, ADF is a useful tool to achieve your goals and a positive step toward improving America’s health profile.
"Increased food intake alone explains the increase in body weight in the United States."
Boyd Swinburn et al.
Catalogue no: T1:RS3.3, oral presentation, Room: Elicium 1, 15.00 hrs CET Friday 8 May 2009.
17th European Congress on Obesity in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 6 - 9 May 2009.