Category Archives: Overweight and Obesity

THIS May Be Why Americans Are Fat

Your average Americans

There’s no shortage of speculation as to why 70% of us in the U.S. are overweight or obese. A few possibilities include:

  • we’re too sedentary
  • we eat too many carbohydrates
  • we eat too much fat
  • our foods are over-processed
  • we eat away from home too often
  • we eat too many industrial seed oils
  • our water and food are contaminated with persistent organic pollutants that disrupt our endocrine systems

I was reading an article at Nutrition Today and came across this graph of calorie consumption change from 1971 to 2004 (or 2000?):

The verbal summary is from this article cited by the cited by the Nutrition Today authors: During 1971—2000, a statistically significant increase in average energy intake occurred. For men, average energy intake increased from 2,450 kcals to 2,618 kcals, and for women, from 1,542 kcals to 1,877 kcals. So men’s daily calorie intake went up by 168, and women’s by 335.

The original article I read states, alternatively, that men’s daily caloric consumption rose from 2450 to 2693, a gain of 243. I can’t explain the discrepancy between 243 and 168, nor why 2004 is in the graph instead of 2000.

Maybe you don’t think an extra 168 calories a day is much. If you believe in the validity of the Energy Balance Equation, those 168 daily calories will turn into  17.5 pounds of fat in a year unless you “burn them off” somehow. If you weigh 150 lb (68 kg), you can burn those 168 calories by doing a daily 15-minute jog at 5.5 mph (8.9 km/hr). But you ain’t gonna do that, are you?! (I’m not getting into a debate about validity of the equation now; for another perspective, read Lyle McDonald.)

But year 2000 was a long time ago. How much are Americans eating now? According to a 2016 report from Pew Research Center:

Broadly speaking, we eat a lot more than we used to: The average American consumed 2,481 calories a day in 2010, about 23% more than in 1970. That’s more than most adults need to maintain their current weight, according to the Mayo Clinic’s calorie calculator. (A 40-year-old man of average height and weight who’s moderately active, for instance, needs 2,400 calories; a 40-year-old woman with corresponding characteristics needs 1,850 calories.)

Bottom line? We’re eating more than we did in 1970. Which could explain why we’re fat. Unless we’re burning more calories than we did in 1970, which I doubt.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: In scientific literature, kcal is what everybody else calls a calorie.

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Filed under Causes of Diabetes, Overweight and Obesity

Which Foods Make Us Fat?

At my other Advanced Mediterranean Diet website, a few years ago I asked visitors to answer a poll question. 2,367 responded thusly:

What single food category makes you gain the most fat weight?Fatty foods like bacon, butter, oils, nuts:
5%
Protein-rich foods: meat, eggs, fish:
0%
Sugary sweet items:
23%
Starches: bread, potatoes, peas, corn:
16%
Carbohydrates:
30%
Pastries, cake, pie, cookies:
25%
Other:
1%

Total Votes: 2367

Yes, I know it’s not a scientific poll, but it’s something. I’m not surprised at the results. I’m wishing I’d offered nuts as a choice since there are at least a few folks who gain weight on nuts, perhaps not realizing that nut calories are mostly from fat. To participate in the poll, click the link above.

Steve Parker, M.D.

low-carb mediterranean diet

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Filed under Overweight and Obesity

NASEM Concludes U.S. Dietary Guidelines Are Not Trustworthy

Back to the drawing board

NASEM is the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Dr. Andy Harris writes that:

The nation’s senior scientific body recently released a new report raising serious questions about the “scientific rigor” of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This report confirms what many in government have suspected for years and is the reason why Congress mandated this report in the first place: our nation’s top nutrition policy is not based on sound science.

Dr. Harris notes that since 1980, when the guidelines were first published, rates of obesity have doubled and diabetes has quadrupled.

Current recommendations to reduce saturated fat consumption and to eat health whole grains do not, after all, reduce rates of cardiovascular disease. That was my conclusion in 2009.

For a mere $68 US you can read the NASEM report yourself. Better yet, read Tom Naughton’s thoughts for free.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: The diets I’ve designed are contrary to U.S. Dietary Guidelines.

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Average U.S. Woman Today Weighs as Much as the Average Man of 1960

But women now are also about a half inch (2.2 cm) taller, so that explains it, right? Not by a long shot. The author of the article below blames unhealthy food, too much of it, plus physical inactivity. Since 1960, women’s average weight is up 18.5%, and men’s up 17.6%.

Click the link below for details. I quote:

The average American woman weighs 166.2 pounds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As reddit recently pointed out, that’s almost exactly as much as the average American man weighed in the early 1960s.

Men, you’re not looking too hot in this scenario either. Over the same time period you gained nearly 30 pounds, from 166.3 in the 60s to 195.5 today.

Source: The average American woman now weighs as much as the average 1960s man – The Washington Post

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: You wanna do something about it? Send my book to someone you love.

PPS: Men are also a half inch taller.

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Mediterranean Diet Limits Weight Gain in Adolescents

"I may not make wine with all of my grapes, but when I do, it's red wine."

“I may not make wine with all of my grapes, but when I do, it’s red wine. Don’t give it to children.”

Overweight and obesity are increasing in U.S. adolescents, which may hamper their health as adults. In fact, some experts predict that we will see a decrease in average life expectancy because of lifelong excess weight.

Youths who follow a Mediterranean diet pattern don’t see as much increase in body mass index as others.

From the International Journal of Obesity:

“Among adults, the Mediterranean dietary pattern (MDP) is inversely related to body mass index (BMI) [i.e., as the Mediterranean diet is followed more closely, we see less increase in body weight.]. Data are lacking on adherence to the MDP among youth in the United States and whether the MDP is related to weight change in that group.”

Now we have some data, and it looks good for the Mediterranean diet.

In other words, if you want to keep your kid from getting fat, the Mediterranean diet will help. Fo you adults, the Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet also helps control diabetes.

Source: International Journal of Obesity – Abstract of article: Adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern and BMI change among US adolescents

Steve Parker, M.D.

low-carb mediterranean diet

Front cover of book

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Filed under Overweight and Obesity

Men Hold the Line at 35%, But 40% of U.S. Women Now Obese

That excess weight can shorten your life

That excess weight can shorten your life

Yahoo has a brief article with a few more details. For $30 you can read the original scientific report from Journal of the American Medical Association.

Obesity in this context is defined as a body mass index of 30 or higher. Calculate your BMI here.

Is it your fault if you’re obese?

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: If you want to buck the overweight/obesity trend, check out my books.

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Another Theory to Explain the Obesity Epidemic

Dr. Michael Eades of Protein Power fame thinks he knows why we’ve gotten fat starting 35 years ago (at least in the U.S.):

Along with carbohydrates, vegetable oils have increased dramatically in the typical American diet. Over the same time period, we’ve all started eating away from home more and more, so that we’ve lost control of exactly what kinds of fats we’ve been eating.

Click the link for the details of his hypothesis, which involves the effects of various dietary fats and carbohydrates on intracellular energy metabolism and insulin resistance.

Steve Parker, M.D.

low-carb mediterranean diet

Front cover of book

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