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Philip Welford

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Is diet and exercise a huge oversimplification of obesity? Do we need an unprejudiced reconsideration?

My partner of 35 years passed away in 2010 aged 53. When we met, she weighed around (126 lbs/56kgs). Following childbirth (two pregnancies) her weight doubled. She ate healthily; typically fruit, cereal and salad. This makes me consider obesity. Many people without a weight problem attribute virtually all obesity to blame, failure, but is it as blatantly simple as diet and exercise? If my partner hadn't had her problems I’d probably believe it.

If a diet worked we'd all be on it and there'd be no obesity. Dieting is self-imposed famine and we, as with many other animals, are equipped to cope with famine. We eventually recover what we lost.

People without a weight problem think they're in control but how do they know they've taken in enough to keep them going until their next food? We need reserves to obtain our next food, even to chew it.

Do we keep every bit of nutrition in what we eat, does some of it pass right through? Intake travels at a rate through the system. Does a quick rate mean less is absorbed than with a slow rate?

Do we store more fat for winter but with the comfort of central heating we don't use it? Has the rise in home heating paralleled the rise in obesity rates?

Is "junk food" an abstract imagination of something fat people eat in large quantities? People focus on fat people eating in public who fit the prejudice but don’t notice others eating as much, or more, who aren't fat.

Is it right to determine all fat people failures? Are there no fat scientists, doctors, or professors? Are they clever in every department except food intake?

Pregnancy hormones reorganise how the metabolism handles food to some extent, providing for the foetus. Are there female dieticians for whom weight has become significantly difficult to control following pregnancy?

Why are there families where just one child is fat and has been since infancy, but the others aren't even though they're all been raised with the same care?

Do other animals exercise on a recreational basis?

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  • Apr 10 2013: When it comes to overall health there are many factors involved and it is almost impossible to account for all of them. When it comes to obesity, many people focus on the diet and exercise but seem to leave out another important role: genetics. While a person such as your partner (my condolences) may eat well and exercise regularly, genetics may still be against them. Genetics plays a role in basal metabolism, your bodies fat percentage, and a wide range of other systems in the body. A healthy lifestyle can offset the adverse effects of bad genetics but it will never be able fully cancel them out. When it comes to diet, studies have shown that this is less important than overall exercise. While it is true that you should eat more nutrient dense foods, have a good variety of foods, and consume less sugar and saturated fats, if you do not exercise your body will simply not utilize the nutrients and calories as it is intended to. With modern technology making convenience a main priority in our lifestyles (similar to your example on central heating) it allows us to get by with less exercise. Less exercise means we do not need to consume as much but the convenience factor has made this nearly impossible as food is almost always readily available to us. This leads to the storage of excess nutrients which is the natural reaction of our body handed to us by our ancestors who never knew when their next meal would be (genetics). For this reason, exercise plays a central role in boosting the metabolism and reducing the amount available for storage. Other animals spend practically their entire lives in a state of exercise because they need to go out and work for their food unlike us.
    As far as determining all fat people to be failures, this concept needs to be struck down immediately. People, regardless of weight, all have certain things in their lives with which they have trouble controlling or simply have no control over. Failure cannot be determined by a number on a scale.
    • Apr 11 2013: My partner's doc said, "It's just the luck of the draw in the gene pool." but that doesn't explain why her weight doubled following childbirth. She wasn't obese before that and she wasn't on her own. The internet is littered with threads from women who have a similar problem.
      Your contribution has prompted the thought, "Do we eat to replace energy we used yesterday or are we estimating what we'll need tomorrow?"
      We may live in modern societies but we aren't removed from nature. Evolution travels at a hugely slower rate than civilisation.
      Why do animals, especially those that hibernate, prepare for hibernation? Why do other animals that don't hibernate grow thicker winter coats? What prompts it? This is what makes me think we are also seasonal and we naturally prepare for what is to come.

      As an aside, I recently thought about the "munchies", where we have days when we have the urge to eat bits of all sorts of foods. Is it because we are short of a particular component, e.g. a vitamin? The brain or body doesn't know what food contains what, so it makes use consume various foods until the right food with the right component is eaten.

      Thanks Paul.
      p.s. I know the munchies is associated with cannabis but I don't use it lol

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