The rise of obesity around the world is seemingly running parallel with another global trend that might be directly linked: The food energy supply. Food available for human consumption has seen a dramatic increase in quite a few countries, many of which have also had an explosion in obesity during the same time span, including the United States. The U.S. has seen one of the highest food energy supply spikes with a 768 calorie increase from 1971 to 2010.
As if the oversaturation of available calories wasn’t enough, many of those calories come from highly-processed foods. The convenience, accessibility and high palatability of processed foods has resulted in the unencumbered rise of their overconsumption. The increased food energy supply, combined with additional environmental factors such as increased urbanization, car dependence and sedentary occupations, created a recipe for a substantial surge in obesity. Other countries may not have the same environmental hurdles, but the additional food energy supply “can readily explain the weight gain seen in most countries,” according to Stefanie Vandevijvere, senior research fellow in global health and food policy at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.
What can be done about this situation is the source of much debate. The World Health Organization and some researchers believe the answer comes in additional government policies such as mandating a “restriction of the marketing of unhealthy foods to children, front-of-pack supplementary nutrition labelling, food pricing strategies, and improving the nutritional quality of foods in schools and other public sector settings.”
However, while U.S. school food programs have made some strides in improving, we recently learned that children in daycare are actually eating healthier at daycares than at home. Childhood obesity is certainly a significant issue, but the numbers that substantiate the rise in obesity is America primarily comes from adults. Knowing that, the question becomes how can we make adults healthier eaters? Would additional policies like the ones mentioned above help?
Source: Bulletin of the World Health Organization
Diet beverages rose in popularity primarily because they contain little to no calories. However, the calories that aren’t being consumed in these kinds of beverages are being consumed elsewhere. According to Dr. Ruopeng An, a University of Illinois Kinesiology and Community Health Professor, those calories are being consumed in the form of unhealthy foods.
Dr. An measured the caloric intake of over 22,000 individuals including their amount of consumption of five types of beverages: diet or sugar-free drinks, sugar-sweetened beverages, coffee, tea, and alcohol. An also cross-referenced people’s diets with a database created from the U.S. Department or Agriculture which included 661 foods categorized as “discretionary” — foods that aren’t important to one’s diet, such as cookies, ice cream and pastries. In other words, foods that should be avoided as part of a healthy diet.
What An found is that almost everyone from the study consumed one of the five types of beverages. Forty-three percent drank at least two. Even though coffee and diet-beverage drinkers consumed the least amount of daily calories, they also had the highest percentage of calories that came from the list of discretionary foods. What does that mean? It means that even though some of the study’s subjects had consumed less calories than some of the other study’s participants, those calories were more likely to cause someone to gain weight. Think of it like this: One person is eating donuts or cookies and another person is eating the same amount of calories (or even more) in vegetables and lean protein. Who’s more likely to gain weight quicker? Most likely the person eating the donuts and cookies.
There are times that you will see someone consuming a fast food meal that includes a double cheeseburger, medium French fries and a diet soda. That speaks directly to what the study states. It’s an illusion. Diet beverages do not allow you to eat more. Remember, it will always be a matter of what you eat or drink just as much as how much you consume.
Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
What is a healthcare provider’s role in helping a patient lose weight? How about the general health of the patient? Ultimately, healthcare providers are best equipped to diagnose what is ailing a person and, perhaps more importantly, they are well educated in recommending and administering the correct procedures and advice to alleviate ailments.
This is well illustrated in a recent study conducted by Johns Hopkins researchers where 300 overweight people partook in a medically supervised weight loss clinical trial. At the end of the trial, regardless of how much weight was lost, the sentiment of the participants was overwhelming: The support of the provider was extremely helpful.
There can be a push/pull relationship between the patient and the provider, and when discussing weight, it could become an arduous one. However, in this study, once that barrier was broken and the patient was accepting of the provider’s tutelage, there were better results in medication schedules, appointment keeping, and improved outcomes in overall weight loss.
What does all of this mean? With many things in life, people are willing to help you along the way. For some, it’s what they do for a living. Healthcare providers are more than willing to help; it’s an oath that they took. Are you, the dieter, willing to accept their assistance?
Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine
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