More Myths about Obesity

There were some myths that I already knew were false. But the presumptions pretty much blew me away. Early childhood weight and habits predicting later outcomes? No evidence. Eating more fruits and vegetables? No effect on their own. Snacking associated with weight gain? Nope. Built environment related to obesity? Try again.

Granted some things about obesity are correct. Exercise is good for you no matter what, and it can help in long term weight loss. Programs that involve families are more likely to help children. Bariatric surgery can be a real life saver for some people.

Austin Frakt summary.  NEJM study.

Comments (11)

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  1. Andrew O says:

    Exercise is a key factor attributed to weight loss. However, people must realize that a healthy and balanced diet throughout the day is the number one factor for weight loss. Surgery should only be an absolute last resort for those who are dramatically and morbidly obese. I am sick of people resorting to medication and surgery instead of engaging in preventative measures by following a healthier and more active lifestyle.

  2. Tyrus says:

    “Snacking associated with weight gain? Nope.”

    Most diet plans actually recomend people to eat 6-8 little meals. Experts say that constantly snacking keeps the metabolism working, and giving your muscles nuturients to grow. However, if you are constantly snacking on unhealthy food, you probably will not see the results you desire.

  3. Andrew O says:

    On the issue of snacking. I think there is a misconception about “snacks.” Call it small meal or snack, whatever, but distributing your nutrient and caloric intake throughout the day to 5-8 times will increase your basal metabolic rate. I’ve experienced this on my own, so I have empirical evidence. However, understanding WHAT types of macro and micro nutrients your body needs throughout the day is something the common person needs to responsibly learn. A small meal ought to have components of macro and micro nutrients so that the body can respond efficiently and never run the risk of undergoing a catabolic state, which is great for fat storage. Of course, and wel ALL should know, that a “snack” continuing junk is bad for you. Rather, one continuing appropriate amounts of protein (lean proteins/soy beans/tofu, etc), complex carbs (whole wheat grains are good sources) and micro nutrients (found in veggies and fruits) results in a healthy “snack” or small meal. So it all depends on your definition of snacking, but the usual “snack” the average American engages in IS unhealhty and anything unhealthy is usually correlated to weight gain. So, the quote mentioned above can be incorrect, but it comes down to semantics.

  4. Evan Carr says:

    Right on Andrew O. And Tyrus is exactly right as well. It has to do with glucose levels to some extent and also the fact that your body can only process so much food at once (roughly 30 grams of protein in one sitting). Delivering nutrients in smaller amounts is healthier than 3 meals a day. Professional bodybuilders eat at least 6 times per day.

    I firmly believe that obesity is primarily a lifestyle epidemic, brought on partly by increases in technology which have reduced the physical labor that is required for many more Americans than in the past.

    Eating more fruits and vegetables? No effect on their own. Key words are “on their own”. Guaranteed the healthiest people in the world eat plenty of fruits and vegetables “as part of a complete diet”. Have you ever noticed how any diet plan advertised on TV will say quickly in small font “with regular fitness” and any wonderarm-mircle-leg-ab-smasher-flab-toner machine advertised by Mr. Buff-and-butt actually comes with a diet plan which is how they can make their claims?

  5. Devon Herrick says:

    The myths are interesting. Little changes could make a big difference is you don’t compensate by eating more than you would have absent the “little changes.”

    There is something known as the halo effect. People think that by having a diet soda on their fast food tray, it somehow magically makes their Big Mac and large fries OK to eat. In reality, the Big Mac may be fine. But the fried is too much even when coupled with a small diet soda.

  6. Evan Carr says:

    Andrew you are spot on. What I consider a healthy snack is a piece of wheat bread with half an avacado smeared on and some almonds and blueberries. Or a pb&j on gluten free bread. Or a homemade Mediterranean salad.

    High fructose corn syrup is the bane of the American wasistline. Staying away from processed foods is crucial. The most important thing, in my opinion, is cooking most of your own food and ensuring that every meal has at least one grain, two vegetables and small portion of meat

  7. Andrew O says:

    Evan, I agree. Processed foods are already known to be bad for you and I think (or hope) most people would at this point agree. However, there are many companies that claim to be “healthier” and people don’t know what is and what isn’t healthy anymore because they don’t take the time to read. There are products out there claiming to be natural and healthy, but once you read the ingredients (not the calories like most people do instead) you will find the opposite, including high fructose corn syrup in some cases. You are right that it is best to prepare/cook these meals with fresh and natural products, which can be very simple to prepare and by the time you are done ordering your food, you could have already prepared a healthy meal in your home. I personally find it many times more of a hassle to go out and get my food elsewhere than to prepare a simple home-made meal.

    Just to add, vegetarians can replace their protein source from meats with proteins found in plant-based diets, such as soy products, tofu, even kale to some extent. Another thing to consider is how vigorously you are exercising. The more you exercise, the more mindful about taking in adequate portions becomes. All these concepts, which are a change in lifestyle, but not a hard one I may say, will also dramatically improve your overall health and can be a good contributor for less dependency on medical services.

  8. Gabriel Odom says:

    On the fruits and vegetables having no effect on their own, I wonder how much of that is someone having their plate already made, and then remembering to pile on some veggies afterwards.

    Also, I don’t think that potatoes should count as a vegetable (or pizza as a vegetable for that matter – thanks Congress).

  9. Jordan says:

    Early childhood programs don’t help, but programs involving the entire family help children?

    Hrm.

  10. Evan Carr says:

    Don’t forget ketchup Gabriel. It is a vegetable as well!

  11. Sadat says:

    Obesity is a lifestyle induced disease, and so, studying and understanding this ailment is open multiple confounding variables, giving rise to all these myths.