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Overeating not the main cause of obesity—study

By Brooke Villanueva Published Sep 14, 2021 11:35 am

When we hear the word obesity, we would easily link it to the idea of overeating, which involves enjoying food in unusually large amounts. New research, however, interestingly suggests otherwise: obesity may not be so much a result of too much eating, but rather the type of food that is eaten.

According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, modern dietary patterns distinguished by excessive consumption of foods with a high glycemic load like “processed, rapidly digestible carbohydrates” primarily give rise to the current epidemic. “These foods cause hormonal responses that fundamentally change our metabolism, driving fat storage, weight gain, and obesity,” it stated.

The study put forward a carbohydrate-insulin model that claims to explain obesity and weight gain better. “When we eat highly processed carbohydrates, the body increases insulin secretion and suppresses glucagon secretion. This, in turn, signals fat cells to store more calories, leaving fewer calories available to fuel muscles and other metabolically active tissues,” as per a report by ANI. “The brain perceives that the body isn’t getting enough energy, which, in turn, leads to feelings of hunger.” 

“In addition, metabolism may slow down in the body’s attempt to conserve fuel. Thus, we tend to remain hungry, even as we continue to gain excess fat,” it continued. 

Instead of cutting down food portions, the model highlights the importance of focusing more on the meals we consume.

“Reducing consumption of the rapidly digestible carbohydrates that flooded the food supply during the low-fat diet era lessens the underlying drive to store body fat. As a result, people may lose weight with less hunger and struggle,” as explained by lead author Dr. David Ludwig—an endocrinologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and professor at Harvard Medical School.

The authors acknowledged that further studies are needed to support the claim, welcoming constructive conversations and “collaborations among scientists with diverse viewpoints to test predictions in rigorous and unbiased research.” 

According to a World Obesity Federation report (March 2021) cited by BusinessWorld, the country has a national obesity risk score of 6/10 (moderate risk). “The rate of increase in adult obesity in the Philippines exhibited ‘very rapid growth' between 1995 and 2015,” the article stated, with 5.4% in men and 3.7% in women. 

Obesity is likely to affect 18% of men and 21% of women by 2025, as per the WOF report.

Obese individuals could have a higher risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer, among others.

With reports from ANI