Yahoo last week reported that We’re getting Fatter and that 42% of Americans will be obese by 2030.
The report states that some of the counter measures include new anti-obesity drugs, health promotion and new recreational facilities to encourage physical activity. The problem I see is that we if we continue to do what we’ve always done, we’ll get what we already have – continued rise in obesity!
Never before have we had so much free information available at our fingertips. Yet for many, the messages about healthy eating and managing our weight doesn’t seem to be getting through. Have we reached a point where we have to start questioning whether we are being given the right advice?
The NHS The Eat Well Plate recommends that a significant proportion of our daily calories should come from complex carbohydrates (carbs), ideally in the form of wholemeal pasta and bread, brown rice and potatoes. Wind the clock back thousands of years and we find early man ate very few carbs and obtained many of his calories from animal fats and protein.
As a child, I ate lots of carbs, even unhealthy ones like cakes, biscuits and crisps. I was never overweight and none of my friends who ate similar foods were either. However, I did walk 2 miles to school each way every day, I played outside with friends after school, rode my bike and ran around in the park. We now ferry our children around in the car because we are worried about their safety, increasing amounts of homework keeps them at their desks and they prefer to meet their friends through social media rather than play in each others’ gardens. Adult lives are just as sedentary if not more as time pressured parents struggle to make time to cook, spend time playing with the kids or do any exercise. We probably need to eat less than our parents’ generation and yet the ever growing abundance and variety of foods available today tempt many of us to eat more than we can burn.
Is our increase in consumption of carbs along with reduced activity levels the lethal combination that leads to weight gain and obesity?
I haven’t acknowledged it until recently, but since I lost 3 stones after the birth of my second child, I do eat less carbs than before and I have sustained my weight loss. I feel the time has come for the World Health Organisation (WHO) or the Department of Health in the UK to call for research on the merits of high protein/low carb/higher natural fat diets in the fight against obesity.
It is becoming clearer to me that if you are of normal weight and are physically active, or have a high metabolic rate (lucky so and sos’) or have the willpower to eat moderate portions, you can eat carbs and maintain your weight. For many trying to lose weight however, reducing their calorie intake whilst following the NHS The Eat Well Plate is not a diet they are able to sustain. A higher protein and fat diet will keep them fuller for longer and may help reduce the temptation to cheat or fall back into bad eating habits! Could Atkins, Paleo and Dukan be the NHS recommended diets of the future for the obese or will the power of the food industries prevent proper research of these increasingly popular diets and encourage us to continue getting fatter!