An Epidemic of Obese Overweight Children
Why the Conventional Explanation Falls Flat



Obese overweight children need help.

According to a 2005 article published by the Institute of Medicine, obesity related costs have tripled over the past two decades. The CDC, as of January 2007, put the number of obese overweight children at more than 9 million -- that’s 16% of all kids.

Kids and adolescents who become obese face a difficult future -- the vast majority will remain obese into adulthood and be at higher risk for problems such as:

Type 2 diabetes, hyperlipidemia,

high blood pressure, cancer,

Alzheimer’s disease and literally dozens of other diseases.

Why are we seeing so many obese overweight children these days?

The conventional explanation is that our kids have become gluttons and sloths. Fast food restaurants, a culture of supersizing, and rampant consumerism have all stoked our kids’ sense of gluttony. They eat more food, and these excess calories get stored as fat on their bodies.

Simultaneously, video games, cell phones, the internet, television, and other myriad distractions prevent kids from running around outside, playing tag and burning off all that excess food.

In short, a toxic environment causes kids to overeat and underexercise; hence, we see so many obese overweight children.

This theory may sound blindingly obvious. But problems with it abound:

  • Certain diseases such Leprechaunism and Cohen Syndrome can lead to obese overweight children -- even when you feed these kids low calorie diets and send them to the gym, they will still gain weight and be unable to lose it.
  • Typically, when you give excess food to a population of animals, the animals will multiply. They will not develop diabetes and obesity and other diseases. That would not be evolutionarily advantageous.
  • Obese overweight children in the wild would likely be eaten and/or killed more easily than thin healthy children. Again, this indicates that something is profoundly hormonally wrong with these kids -- not that they are lazy gluttons.
  • Reducing children with exercise and diet generally fails. It could be that kids just don’t get the message. Or, more likely, it could be that we give kids the wrong advice about how to eat healthy and lose weight.
  • You can find plenty of examples of lazy kids who don’t get fat in our toxic environment.
  • Vice-versa: you can find plenty of examples of kids who are extremely disciplined and strong willed who are nevertheless unable to shake the extra weight.
  • A low-carb diet seems to work for many overweight obese children who can’t lose weight on other kinds of reducing plans.

An alternative explanation

A message has been drilled into all of our heads:

Excess calories make us fat; cutting calories makes us thin. 
But what if getting fat has nothing to do (directly) with calories? What if it has to do with hormones and metabolism?

Specifically, what if when we eat certain kinds of foods -- such as sugar and refined carbs -- this drives the body to secrete too much of the hormone insulin, which causes the body to store fat instead of burning it? What if all this sugar in our diets (carbs, after all, break down into sugar in the body) is the root cause of our problems.

If you look at the paradoxes that befuddle the overeat/underexercise theory through the lens of this other hypothesis, all of a sudden, things make a lot more sense.

Consider:

  • Sure, diseases make kids fat and sick -- fattening (like disease) can be caused by hormonal problems rather than by excess calories.
  • The other theory explains why we get both fat AND sick from bad diets -- it’s not that we eat too MANY calories, it’s that we eat too many BAD calories.
  • Of course, obese overweight children would have a harder time in the wild. It’s not that these kids are lazy or slothful; it’s just that they have been sickened by their diet.
  • Of course, traditional reducing diets and exercise fail for kids -- if they don’t fix the fundamental hormonal imbalance, they obviously will not succeed.
  • Of course, we see lazy kids who don’t get fat and willful kids who do; weight gain has nothing to do with willpower or lack thereof -- it has to do with hormones.
  • Of course, low-carb diets work for obese overweight children -- by controlling the amount of sugar these kids eat, we control insulin levels which in turn normalizes the amount of fat stored in their fat tissue.

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