Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Yes, You ARE What You Eat!

During recent travels, I’ve noticed something alarming – the number of overweight people, especially kids. Okay, so sometimes people say that their obesity is due to a medical issue. The research indicates that yes, this is possible. However, obesity due to health issues accounts for less than 1%, the other 99% is due primarily to diet and lifestyle issues.

Basically: Calories In > Calories Out = Stored as Fat

Weight gain should seemingly be easy to control, yet just look around you and you will see the alarmingly high number of obese children and adults.

When I looked into the stats, I found that there is a disturbing trend especially regarding childhood obesity. A recent report by Dr. Philip James, chairman of the International Obesity Task Force suggests that by 2010 nearly 50% of children in the Americas will be obese. In addition, Dr. James goes on to say that this is not a phenomenon limited to the Americas, but it is actually an international trend that is affecting children in ALL countries.

This is a huge problem as these children will suffer the health impacts of obesity, and will often carry these problems into adulthood. There is now pressure on food manufacturers to make changes to their products to make them healthier, and to cut back on advertising related to junk food. However, the junk food industry is huge with a great deal of clout, and will fight any changes that will affect their bottom line.

So, what can you do? As consumers, we have a choice. Our Top Ten Tips:

1. buy organic (organic is not always synonymous with healthy, but organic foods typically tend to have fewer of the nasties such as transfats and other artificial ingredients)
2. don’t use artificial sweeteners, or products with high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener
3. don’t buy anything with artificial colours or flavours
4. buy prepared foods with fewer and recognizable ingredients
5. don’t drink pop (especially important for kids)
6. don’t eat while watching TV
7. don’t eat at ‘All You Can Eat’ places
8. cut down on TV/Video game time, or better still get rid of TV entirely
9. keep the junk out – just don’t bring it into the home!
10. prepare food at home from wholesome ingredients as much as possible

Sorry, but there is no magic to weight loss despite all the diet aids, pills, and prescription diets that we see advertised wherever we go. The weight gain takes place over time, and losing it will take time too.

As noted previously, the formula is basically: Calories In > Calories Out = Stored as Fat.

Taking the equation apart, and reversing it:

Decrease Calories In – we need to cut back on calories taken in (check with your physician on what would be an appropriate level for your height/weight and activity level), and use the ‘Top Ten Tips’

Increase Calories Out – decreasing ‘Calories In’ on its own is not enough! You also need to increase ‘Calories Out’ by getting active (check with your physician before undertaking fitness program)

Adhering to this reverses the equation so that it becomes: Calories Out > Calories In = Fat Loss

Some links that may be of use/interest:

http://www.fitday.com/ for setting up and monitoring your calorie intake/expenditure
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11694799/ has information on the trends related to childhood obesity
http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Obesity/Pages/Causes.aspx has information on causes of obesity