6 Reasons We’re Fatter Than 30 Years Ago, It’s Not Food Or ExerciseBy: via thenewprime.com
It’s no secret that obesity is a major health challenge today and one that has grown steadily over the past years. But why are we fatter today than we were three decades ago? At one time, experts thought the cause of overweight/obesity was simple: too many calories consumed plus a sedentary lifestyle equaled excess weight.
If you’ve been struggling with weight, this statement probably doesn’t surprise you, but what Kuk and her colleagues uncovered during their research about obesity over the past 30 years may. The goal of their study was to determine if the relationship between three factors—total calories consumed, amount of physical exercise, and intake of protein, fat, and carbs—and obesity has changed over the past three decades.
To accomplish this, they reviewed dietary data from 36,377 Americans between 1971 and 2008 along with exercise data from 14,419 people between 1998 and 2006. When all three factors were equal, a person in 2006 who ate the same amount of fat, protein, and carbs, consumed the same amount of calories, and engaged in the same amount of exercise as a person did in 1988 (of the same age), the individual in 2006 would be fatter; that is, he or she would have a body mass index approximately 10 percent higher than the person in 1988.
“….maintaining a healthy body weight is now more challenging than ever…”This is where it starts to get more interesting. A closer look at the data revealed that between 1971 and 2008, BMI, caloric intake, and carb intake rose 10 to 14 percent while fat and protein intake declined 5 to 9 percent. In addition, between 1988 and 2006, physical activity rose 47 to 120 percent. When all the findings were considered, Kuk and her team concluded that “factors other than diet and physical activity may be contributing to the increase in BMI over time.”
Exposure to environmental toxins
Changes in your microbiome
Use of prescription antidepressants
Stress and cortisol
The connection between stress and obesity lies mainly with hormones, especially the stress hormone cortisol. When stress levels remain elevated, so do cortisol levels, which can increase your appetite. Emotional eating—turning to comfort foods when faced with tension, stress, anxiety, depression—can become part of this pattern as well.
Lack of sleep
A recent Gallup Poll indicates that we are getting less sleep today than our peers did back in the 1940s. In 1942, Americans got nearly 8 hours of sleep per night, compared with an average of 6.8 hours today.
While the York University findings suggest that you need to eat less calories and exercise more than your same-age peers of three decades ago, other factors are likely involved in the fight against obesity as well. You can arm yourself for that fight by:
- Avoiding environmental toxins as much as possible by using all-natural/organic personal care items and household cleaning items as well as environmentally friendly pest control
- Ditching the aftershave and other fragranced products
- Choosing organic foods whenever possible, including grass-fed, hormone-free meats
- Using glass and stainless steel instead of plastic containers to store your food
- Only buying products in BPA-free plastic, tins and cans
- Getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night
- Practicing stress management techniques daily, such as meditation, progressive relaxation, deep breathing, yoga, tai chi, or visualization
- Supporting your microbiome by avoiding artificial sweeteners and processed foods and eating foods rich in probiotics (and/or taking a probiotic supplement) to support beneficial bacteria in your gut
- Talking to your healthcare provider about alternatives to any prescription antidepressants you may be taking. Other prescription drugs that may contribute to weight gain include beta-blockers, corticosteroids, diabetes medications, and mood stabilizers.