Getting a Fat Belly?
The Solution May Be Far from Obvious
Everyone is getting a fat belly these days, it seems.
It’s not just your friends and family members (and possibly yourself) who struggle with the battle of the bulge. Many of our nation’s premiere health authorities and policymakers are also WAY overweight.
Advice from public health authorities
If you are getting a fat belly, what on Earth should you do? The experts at institutions like the CDC, the USDA, and the National Institutes of Health recommend a so-called balanced diet:
- Low in fats and sugar and salt
- High in fiber, whole grains, fruit and vegetables
- Relatively low in calories
- Supplemented by a good exercise program
This balanced diet advice seems beyond obvious to most of us. But will following this advice actually make us slimmer and healthier?
Most of us assume it will. The guidelines are obviously good; we just don’t (or can’t) follow them.
We believe that we are ignoring good advice. That we have somehow been rendered incapable of making healthy choices. That we have collectively become weak willed and sedentary. Fast food, corporate marketing, video games, the internet, and a super-caloric environment have conspired with our susceptible genetics to make us one of the fattest nations in human history.
But if you are getting a fat belly, can you really blame a lack of self control and self discipline?
If so, you then must explain a bunch of paradoxes, including:
- Fat people can be strong willed in so many ways. What about food singularly breaks down their will power?
- Thin people, meanwhile, are not ALL strong willed -- at least not compared to ALL fat people. Thus, willpower alone cannot be the difference.
- Who doesn’t know a lazy teenager who is thin as a string bean? Conversely, who doesn’t know a middle-aged woman who works out every single day and yet still cannot avoid getting a fat belly?
- We’ve been inundated with advice to eat a balanced diet for decades now. Yet it doesn’t seem to be doing us much good. In fact, we seem to be going backwards.
- We are eating less fat than ever, believe it or not, according to statistics compiled by the USDA itself. And we are eating more carbohydrates then ever. All of the excess calories in our diets have come from carbs. Shouldn’t that tell us something?
- The obesity epidemic has neatly coincided with the institution of the USDA Food Pyramid guidelines, which starting in the late 1970s/early 1980s, began recommending that all Americans eat less fat and more carbohydrates.
A different way to view the problem
What if the advice to eat a balanced diet is somehow rotten? What if eating more carbs and less fat -- more whole grains and fruit and less red meat -- has actually made us fatter and sicker?
This may sound preposterous at first blush. How could animal fat be considered a health food? How can fruit and whole grains be bad? How can exercise not lead to weight loss?
Put your disbelief on hold for a second.
When you view reality through the lens of an alternative theory about obesity that blames carbs and not calories for the problem, suddenly all the paradoxes we just talked about neatly disappear.
It isn’t that we are overeating and not getting enough exercise; it’s that we eat too many carbohydrates and thus over-secrete the hormone insulin. According to this idea, you and your neighbor and your doctor are all getting a fat belly because you are all eating way too much sugar (carbs break down into sugar after we digest them); and this sugar causes you to make too much insulin, which in turn makes you fat.
The high sugar theory of obesity resolves our paradoxes.
- The dramatic surge in obesity is not result of a sudden change in all of our personalities (from industrious to slothful); it’s a result of a change in the constitution of our diet.
- Willpower has nothing to do with why certain people get fat whereas others don’t; the key factor is ultimately sugar sensitivity.
- People get fat despite eating “a balanced diet” because the balanced diet is in fact obesogenic--it contains too much sugar and carbs, which prevent weight loss.
- The obesity epidemic has coincided with the advent of the food pyramid because the food pyramid probably caused it!
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