THE “OBESITY EPIDEMIC” HAS TAKEN MANY DECADES TO FORM AND DEVELOP…IT IS BASED ON THE CULTURAL AND TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGES AND “IMPROVEMENTS” IN THE WAY AMERICANS LIVE AND EAT…

The obesity epidemic is generally portrayed as a relatively recent phenomenon, but new research paints a different picture.  John Komlos and Marek Brabec find (gated version here) that obesity rates actually began rising in the early 20th century, with significant upsurges after the two World Wars.  

The generally persistent upward trend was punctuated by upsurges, particularly after each of the two World Wars. That the estimated rate of change of BMI values increased by 71% among black females between the birth cohorts 1955 and those of 1965 is indicative of the rapid increases in their weight. We infer that transition to post-industrial weights was a gradual process and began considerably earlier than hitherto supposed.

The authors point out that “the ‘creeping’ nature of the epidemic, as well as its persistence, does suggest that its roots have been embedded deep in the social fabric and are nourished by a network of disparate sources…”  Komlos and Brabec point to factors like the industrialization of food production, the spread of automobiles, the spread of the media, the IT revolution, and the growing culture of consumption in America to explain the trend.

http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/06/a-different-obesity-timeline/

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NEW RESEARCH WILL SHOW THAT THE SIMPLISTIC “DIET BOOK” REMEDIES WILL FAIL OVER THE LONG RUN AND FOR MOST PEOPLE…WHICH IS JUST FINE WITH THE DIET BOOK PUBLISHERS AS THEY WILL JUST PUBLISH NEW BOOKS SAYING THE SAME THINGS IN DIFFERENT WAYS…SUCCESSFUL WEIGHT LOSS AND IDEAL SHAPE IS A LIFESTYLE COMMITMENT…MOTIVATION WILL COME FROM REASONS TO LOSE WEIGHT AND BE FIT, NOT SIMPLE CHOICES…EAT WHOLE FOODS IN SMALLER PORTIONS AND KEEP OVERALL DAILY CALORIES UNDER 2,000….

“There is a growing body of literature that shows [weight loss is] more complex” than a pound per 3,500 calories, says Lynn Silver, assistant commissioner of the New York City Health Department’s bureau of chronic disease prevention and control. Dr. Silver says the city has recognized the new science by couching its statements about obesity reduction with phrases such as “up to,” rather than “at least.” She adds, “If it does take more than 3,500 calories to lose a pound or not gain a pound, then it makes it all the more important to change the food environment.”

“If we launch a national campaign with the wrong assumptions, aiming for example to shift the calorie balance by 50 to 100 calories per day, we’re going to be sorely disappointed with the results.”

How many calories must a dieter cut to lose a pound?

The answer most dietitians have long provided is 3,500. But recent studies indicate that calories can’t be converted into weight through a simple formula.

The result is that the 3,500-calorie rule of thumb gets things very wrong over the long term, and has led health analysts astray. Much bigger dietary changes are needed to gain or shed pounds than the formula suggests.

Consider the chocolate-chip-cookie fan who adds one 60-calorie cookie to his daily diet. By the old math, that cookie would add up to six pounds in a year, 60 pounds in a decade and hundreds of pounds in a lifetime.

But new research—based on studies of volunteers whose calorie consumption is observed in laboratory settings, rather than often-unreliable food diaries—suggests that the body’s self-regulatory mechanisms tamp down the effects of changes in diet or behavior. If the new nutritional science is applied, the cookie fiend probably will see his weight gain approach six pounds, and then level off, pediatrician David Ludwig and nutrition scientist Martijn Katan wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association earlier this year. The same numbers, in reverse, apply to weight loss.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303960604575157820324371484.html

 THE STUDIES ARE NOW REALLY STARTING TO BE CONCLUSIVE REGARDING “DARK CHOCOLATE”, WHICH WILL HAVE LOWER LEVELS OF SUGAR …6 GRAMS OF DARK CHOCOLATE A DAY IS TOTALLY DOABLE…

“If you want to eat chocolate, keep it at low amounts and leave out something else in the diet, preferably something also rich in calories,” he said. “If you chose chocolate rather than a bag of potato chips, that’s probably better, because the chips don’t have any nutritional benefit other than the calories.”

A daily nibble of dark chocolate may slash the risk of heart attacks and strokes by more than one-third, a study of 20,000 middle-aged Germans found.

Researchers tracked participants for a decade to unravel the ties between chocolate and heart disease, and unexpectedly found the biggest benefit lay in warding off strokes. Eating an extra 6 grams of chocolate a day, or less than two Hershey’s Kisses, could prevent 85 heart attacks and strokes in every 10,000 people over a decade, said Brian Buijsse, lead researcher of the study published today by the European Heart Journal.

The report provides more evidence about the beneficial effects of chocolate, particularly the dark variety that’s rich in cocoa and potentially protective compounds called flavanols, said Buijsse, a nutritional epidemiologist at the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Nuthetal. Chocolate appeared to have a more powerful effect than fruit and vegetables, a mainstay of a healthy diet. Those who ate the most chocolate also consumed the fewest fruits and vegetables.

The findings shouldn’t be used as a license to binge on chocolate, which could lead to obesity and harm the heart, Buijsse said in a telephone interview.

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-03-30/daily-nibble-of-dark-chocolate-aids-middle-aged-hearts-in-study.html

 THIS BOOK IS “WORLD CLASS”…OUTSTANDING IN ITS FOCUS ON CAUSES AND “REASONS” FOR OBESITY…BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO…BUBBAS DON’T REASON WHEN IT COMES TO APPETITE AND EATING…THEY EAT WHATEVER IS AVAILABLE…THIS IS A MUST READ….

“…all studies agreed on five things that influence our eating behavior: hunger, the availability of food, the variety of food, the familiarity of food and how rich or calorie-dense the food is…”

“…Roberts says one contributor to obesity is the wide variety of foods available today. Choice is a problem for many of us because we instinctively eat until we’ve satisfied ourselves with each individual food rather than with the meal overall.”

“The ‘I’ Diet” is a diet book with a difference. Like many other books in the weight-loss genre, it features eating plans, nutritional advice and recipes. But the new paperback — previously published in 2008 as “The Instinct Diet” and updated with new material — offers something more: practical strategies for changing eating habits.

” ‘I’ Diet” author Susan B. Roberts is a professor of nutrition and of psychiatry at Boston’s Tufts University, where she focuses on obesity. She says that after writing nearly 200 research papers and reading several thousand by other scientists, she decided that all studies agreed on five things that influence our eating behavior: hunger, the availability of food, the variety of food, the familiarity of food and how rich or calorie-dense the food is.

Roberts’ book, written with Betty Kelly Sargent, addresses these variables to help dieters shed pounds and develop a healthier relationship to food. She’s tested her plan on volunteers in her Tufts weight-loss lab and others. She promises that her program drops weight faster with less hunger than other plans, eliminates dieting plateaus and cuts cravings — and will result in permanent weight control.

These are hefty claims, but her approach has plenty of influential fans. The new book includes favorable reviews and endorsements from former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler, New York Times personal health writer Jane Brody and a slew of academics in the nutrition and medical fields, as well as Harvard’s Henry Louis Gates Jr., who lost 30 pounds on her diet while eating out five nights a week.

 http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/booster_shots/2010/03/book-review-the-i-diet-by-susan-b-roberts-and-betty-kelly-sargent.html

THE CHRONICALLY OVERWEIGHT (AND LAZY) WILL ALWAYS BE TEMPTED AND TEASED BY THE THOUGHT OF A “PILL” WHICH WILL MAKE THE POUNDS MELT AWAY…AND WILL NEVER CHANGE THEIR LIFESTYLE AND DIET REGIMENS TO LOSE WEIGHT THE “OLD-FASHIONED WAY”….

“The ideal candidate should not already be on a diet but eat a healthy balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins and be prepared to increase their existing calorie intake by 16 per cent a week by eating fatty foods such as Chinese takeaways, fish and chips, pizza or McDonalds.

The spokesman said the tester would help the company’s medical experts learn more about the health benefits of taking Proactol – which it is claimed absorbs up to 30 per cent of fat intake.

After an initial in-house monitoring period the ‘couch potato’ will be given the opportunity to work from home – with supplies being delivered to their door.

A company is advertising for a couch potato to do nothing and eat more.

It will pay almost £24,000 to a “worker” with a big appetite who is happy to eat 400 extra calories every day in high fat meals such as chips and pizzas, to test the fat binding properties of a weight loss product.

The position is open to men and women and the successful applicant will have their calorific intake and weight closely monitored by medics.

A spokesman for the firm Proactol Ltd said that while their fat binder was already clinically proven, they wanted to test it in the real world.

The job ad, which has already gone up in UK job centres, reads: “We know it’s incredible, but it’s true.

“We are willing to pay you £23,750 a year to continue doing EXACTLY what you do every single day, and all we ask in return is that you eat 16 per cent more calories a week – or 400 more calories a day – whilst introducing Proactol into your diet.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/7443123/Professional-couch-potato-wanted-get-paid-to-do-nothing-and-eat-more-junk-food.html

REDUCED CALORIE DIETS…THAT IS THE KEY…ALTHOUGH FOUR PACKS RECOMMENDS A SHORT TERM RAPID WEIGHT LOSS REGIMEN WHICH WOULD BE A VERY LOW CARBOHYDRATE, HIGHER PROTEIN (BY VIRTUE OF PROTEIN BEING A  HIGH PERCENTAGE OF THE TOTAL CALORIES) DIET WHERE TOTAL CALORIES WOULD REMAIN BELOW 1200 PER DAY….
 
“…a recent two-year study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that reduced-calorie diets led to weight loss in overweight adults regardless of which macronutrients — protein, fat, or carbohydrate — were emphasized.”

Two strategies were used in the weight-management program: One centered on reducing portion size and changing habits, such as snacking. The other used an approach called appetite awareness training, which provides guidelines on how much to eat, not just what to eat.

Smith said the exercise part of the program wasn’t drastic — “workouts of 30 minutes three to four times a week, enough to put the heart up to 75 to 80 percent of its maximum rate.”

A good diet and regular exercise may help the mind function better, a new study suggests.

“It looks like exercise and diet improve the range of cognitive function,” said Patrick Smith, an intern in clinical neuropsychology and a member of a Duke University team reporting the finding online in the March 8 issue of Hypertension. “It helps executive function, learning and psychomotor speed.”

The researchers followed 124 men and women with high blood pressure who were 52 and a minimum of 15 pounds overweight, on average.

Led by James Blumenthal, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke, the study was designed primarily to determine the effect of diet and exercise on blood pressure and included people with mild to moderate high blood pressure.

The mental studies were included because “some previous data linked exercise and diet to better cognitive function,” Smith said. The new results verified those findings, he noted.

A third of the participants went about eating and exercising as they usually did. Another third followed the DASH — Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension — diet, which emphasizes low-fat dairy products, fruits and vegetables, in combination with regular exercise. The final third were in a program that combined the DASH diet with a weight-management program and aerobic exercise.

http://www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/healthday/636763.html

“What the food industry did was to take fat, sugar and salt, put in on every corner, make it available 24/7, make it socially acceptable to eat any time,” Kessler says. “We’ve added the emotional gloss of advertisement, we’ve made the food into entertainment, and we’re living the consequences.

“There seems to be something special about calories when they get delivered in liquids,” says Kelly Brownell, co-founder and director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University. “The body doesn’t recognize them well, and there’s less compensation when people consume too much. Third is, they’re so heavily promoted, it’s ridiculous. And fourth, you’ve got this possibility of the sugar, especially coupled with caffeine, being addictive enough to be a problem.”

Dr. Valerie Taylor doesn’t believe that most people with a weight problem would say, “This is not my fault,” or, “This is because of McDonald’s.”

 “Absolutely, they take responsibility,” says Taylor, an assistant professor in psychiatry and behavioural neuroscience at McMaster University in Hamilton, and director of the Canadian Obesity Network mental health program. Many people feel guilty about their weight, she says, “and they struggle to accept treatments like surgery because they really feel they should be able to control this problem themselves.

 “Some don’t even think they deserve the kinds of treatment and care that other medical conditions receive.”

 The truth, she says, is that certain people are vulnerable to overeating, “and we have created an environment in which high fat, palatable food is abundant.”

http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Battling+bulge+wage+against+obesity/2647639/story.html

THIS STUDY HITS HOME WITH THE POWERFUL “NEGATIVE” EFFECT OF A “FAT” OR “OVER-WEIGHT” NETWORK OF “FRIENDS AND FAMILY”…ALL THE MORE IMPORTANT TO HAVE “REASONS” TO BE IN “IDEAL SHAPE” AND AVOID CHOICES, I.E. FAD DIETS, ETC….READ BELOW:

If friends of your friends begin to put on weight, you are likely to do the same—even if you don’t know the people in question, and even if they live hundreds of miles away. Obesity spreads like a fad; it is contagious.

This striking finding about how obesity spreads through social networks was the result of a 30-year study in Massachussetts, as Nicholas A Christakis and James H Fowler note in their new book, Connected: The Surprising Power of Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives (HarperPress). Research shows that the same is true for smoking, and a range of other behaviours and attitudes like drinking, depression, charitable giving, sexual practices—even the decisions to marry, divorce, reproduce, or vote.

Why is this important? Because from healthcare to climate change, governments today face a range of problems where they must persuade people to change their behaviour. But instead of relying on their powers of persuasion, politicians should consider taking a class in “network science.” True, many claims for the power of social networks are based on the hype surrounding websites like Facebook. But the basic idea is simple: people join together in groups with particular patterns of ties, and these patterns then have important effects on the way they behave.

http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/2010/02/let%e2%80%99s-all-be-friends/

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