Myths surrounding obesity

Following an article written in the Sidney Morning Herald by Deborah Cohen, a senior natural scientist at US think tank Rand Corp, we are going to explain some of the myths surrounding obesity:

1. If you’re obese, you can guilty your genes

Between 1980 and 2000, the number of Americans who are obese has doubled – too quickly for genetic factors to be responsible. So why do we eat more than we need? The easy answer: Because we can. At home and at restaurants, a dollar puts more calories on our dishes than ever before. We should blame these business practices, which are modifiable, for obesity rather than our genes, which are not.

2. If you’re obese, you be short of self-control

People won’t lose weight by trying to eat less because they can’t easily manage themselves.

In one study, people asked to choose a snack after memorising a seven-digit number were 50 per cent more likely to choose chocolate cake over fruit salad than those who had to memorise a two-digit number.

Our world has turn out to be so rich in temptation that we can be led to consume too much in ways we can’t understand. Even the most watchful may not be up to the task of domineering their impulses.

3. Lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables is responsible



Obesity is not related to access to more nutritious foods, but rather to the choices we make in supermarkets where junk-food marketing dominates. Since we are buying more calories than we need, eating healthily could be made more affordable by eliminating unnecessary cheaper low nutrient foods and substituting higher quality foods that may be more expensive.

Obesity is usually the consequence of eating too much junk food and consuming portions that are too large. People may head to the produce section of their grocery store with the best intentions, only to be confronted by candy at the cash register and chips and soda at the end of aisles.

4. The problem is not that we eat too much, but that we are too sedentary

There is compelling evidence that the increase in calories consumed explains the rise in obesity. People consume, on average, more than 500 more calories per day now than they did in the late 1970s. That’s like having a Christmas dinner twice a week or more. It wouldn’t be a problem if we stuffed ourselves only once a year, but all-you-can-eat feasts are now available all the time. It’s nearly impossible for most of us to exercise enough to burn off these excess calories.

5. We can conquer obesity through better education about diet and nutrition

According to a physicians’ health study, 44 per cent of male doctors in the US are overweight. A study by the University of Maryland School of Nursing found that 55 per cent of nurses surveyed were overweight or obese. If people who provide health care cannot control their weight, why would nutrition education alone make a difference for others?

Education can help, but what’s really needed is regulation – for example, limits on marketing that caters to our addiction to sugar and fat.

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