While I’m out here busting myths this week, allow me to take on another one: For the millionth (but likely not the last) time, obesity and weight loss are a much more complex issue than the simple “calories in vs. calories out” philosophy.
And the sooner the medical establishment gets the memo, the better—because this particular piece of fiction plays a starring role in perpetuating the world-wide obesity epidemic.
Biology is one piece of the puzzle
We all know that obesity doesn’t happen overnight. It entails a rather complex metabolic domino effect. So as you can imagine, it isn’t exactly easy to wind up in an epidemic as severe as the one we’re currently in, either.
So how did we get here?
Well, human biology definitely plays a role. After all, research shows that we have set weights that our bodies work to return to, even after we’ve lost a lot of weight through dieting.
And then there’s the role of leptin—and specifically, leptin resistance, which fuels obesity—not to mention the roles of the pancreas and the gut. All of these issues are biological. (Which explains why studies on twins raised separately show that weight tends to reflect that of biological, not adoptive, parents.)
These issues are bigger than we ever thought, too. At one point, we only knew about 15 genes involved with weight regulation. But now, we know that there are actually more than two million gene variations that contribute to significant weight differences… and as much as a 25-fold increase in risk for severe obesity.
That’s not to mention the fact that evolution hardwired our bodies to survive through times of starvation… and now we live in near permanent abundance. Not only that, but modern processed “frankenfoods” are specially designed to be high-reward—packed with excess sugar that sets off fireworks in your brain’s pleasure center.
Needless to say, you’re not going to tackle these obstacles simply by counting calories. Which is exactly why we’re still in this mess… among a long list of other reasons. Many of which are completely reversible.
Nurture and nature at work
Obesity rates have only been increasing since the 1990s—and it’s safe to say we didn’t evolve genetically in that short period of time. But do you know what has evolved?
Our lifestyle—and not for the better.
In fact, estimates suggest that the average adult walks approximately 26 miles—yes, that’s a full marathon—less per week than they did back in the 1950s.
And that’s just one change. As I mentioned above, the modern “ultra-processed” food supply is virtually unrecognizable. Then you have industrial chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides like glyphosate to contend with.
The net effect of this obesogenic environment is disastrous—especially for people already genetically predisposed to obesity. But in the end, no one’s really safe. And body mass indexes (BMIs) have increased across the board because of it.
Bottom line? There are so many moving parts at play behind the obesity epidemic—and neither “fat genes” nor obesogenic changes to our modern environment are solely responsible for this turn of events.
Ultimately, it’s epigenetics—that is, the interplay between environment and genes—that have really set this disaster into motion. And this interplay has caused genetically predisposed people, who may have stayed thin in previous eras, to balloon over time.
That’s why this isn’t strictly a “nature vs. nurture” discussion. Because the problem here lies with both—a perfect storm of lifestyle and environmental sabotage, combining forces to make a good half of the population fat.
I blame the free 20-ounce soda refills at movie theaters. But we all know that’s just the tip of the iceberg. And that reversing the obesity crisis is going to require interventions on multiple fronts.
In the meantime, I’ll keep doing my part—bringing knowledge and recommending true change, one patient and reader at a time. So keep moving consistently, eating a healthy, balanced diet, and adding smart supplementation to your regimen.
P.S. I often tell you all about the horrifying realities of our obesity crisis. And as I reported in the October 2019 issue of my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter (“Cancer diagnoses in younger Americans reach a terrifying, all-time high”), recent research even shows a rise in six different obesity-related cancer diagnoses. Subscribers have access to that content in my archives. So click here to sign up today!
“Nature vs Nurture: What’s Fueling the Obesity Epidemic?” Medscape Medical News, 11/22/2019. (medscape.com/viewarticle/921727)