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Overeating, Not Lack Of Exercise Equals Obesity

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, May 11, 2009 9:46 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Obesity, Heart Attack, Cancer, World Health Organization. Overweight, Exercise, BMI

Eating too much food may be primarily responsible for our obesity epidemic in the US. 




IMAGE SOURCE: ©Wikimedia Commons / waist circumference / author: Pharos, FDA Dietary Guidelines


We’ve all seen sepia-tinted pictures of life in the mid 1940’s and 1950's - none of the people pictured appear to be overweight.  Were they all exercising?  Probably not.

A study released Friday may shed some light on the obesity epidemic. It blames the weight gain primarily on an increase in food intake. 

The study, by Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia and released Friday at the European Congress on Obesity in Amsterdam – finds that Americans are eating more than they did 30 years ago.  Professor Boyd A. Swinburn, director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Obesity Prevention, tells Reuters that a decline in physical activity likely plays a minor role.

"We absolutely need to continue to promote increased physical activity and a healthy diet because they are both obviously beneficial factors in terms of obesity," he emphasized. "But when it comes to placing priorities, I think it needs to be on reducing energy intake. It's particularly important for policymakers to focus on the energy intake side of the equation." Swinburn explains.

How much are Americans eating?

Obesity or being overweight proves we are consuming more than needed to maintain a stable weight.  Researchers find that to return to more average weights of 30 years ago, adults would need to reduce about 500 calories a day (one large hamburger), and children would need to cut out about 350 calories per day (about one small portion of French fries). 

The alternative would be to increase activity by more than 110 minutes per day of walking per day by adults, 150 minutes per day for children.

And a little good news – increases in physical activity over the last three decades, may have reduced an even higher weight gain.

As if the obesity epidemic was not cause enough for concern, a British study finds the more overweight you are the greater your chance of developing cancer.

About two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.  

To find if an adult is overweight or obese one must find their body mass index (BMI) which is based on a persons’ height and weight. An adult who has a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight and an adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese. #


Posted by Jon Lewis
Monday, May 11, 2009 10:48 AM EST

I would agree with this to some extent; however, in the 40's and 50's, there was less driving and more walking and other physical activity associated with everyday life. Kids didn't play video games, watch tv, or sit in front of computers. Their activities involved getting outside and playing sports, riding bikes, etc. That also contributed to how they continued with physical activity throughout high school and college.

Posted by Robin Bara
Monday, May 11, 2009 7:14 PM EST

I couldn't agree with this article more. I run 2-3 miles every other day, but thanks to law school I can down an entire package of potato chips in one sitting while I'm studying. If you consume more calories than you burn you will gain weight, regardless of how active you are.

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, May 12, 2009 10:55 AM EST

What's interesting is that our parents, who today are in their 70s and 80s, never had a Golds Gym membership or ever heard of a stairmaster, but look at the old photos- virtually no one is overweight.

Europeans in this country often comment, "Americans eat a lot."

Comments for this article are closed.

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