Obesity, a recent topic of great concern, seems to especially be a popular topic of the doomsday nay-sayers, who claim that exercise does not help, however even if theoretically right, this theory still comes out as wrong. Over the past five decades, it is evident that the U.S. has grown more obese and the a popular explanation to those fighting the ‘battle of the bulge,’ almost a consolation is that it obesity is genetic. While the FTO, the ‘fat gene,’ could be related to obesity, when looked into more deeply, it is at best indirect. One third of adults in the U.S. is classified as obese, that is roughly 78 million Americans. Based on demographics, if genetics were the case, then the same proportion, or close to that, should have been obese generations ago. Also lending to this fallacy is the fact that most of the planet does not suffer as greatly from the obesity epidemic as does the U.S.
Over the past 50 years, individuals ranging from doctors to nutritionists have tried to battle the growing obesity epidemic by coming up with numerous explanations and solutions. At first fats were vilified, beginning with the attack on butter, suggesting margarine as a substitute. Today it is more commonly known that margarine contains trans-fats, now considered deadly and cancer-causing. However, the crusade against fat continued through the 1980’s and 1990’s where food companies cynically introduced their processed fat-free snacks, rich in simple carbohydrates and loaded with sugar. These sugars caused a spiking of the body’s release of insulin, resulting in it storing more fat cells, causing more people to become obese.
By the mid-1990’s carbs were now the bad guy and the leading cause of obesity. The carb-free craze was in full swing and the all of the sudden healthy items like whole grains, potatoes and some fruit were lumped in the same category as cookies and cake. Some individuals lost weight and saw positive results, however, others either continued to struggle the same as before, or ended up gaining weight and feeling unhealthier. With the carb-free craze going out the window, people fighting the obesity epidemic continued to be led down a tiresome path, by marketers claiming they had the solution to losing weight without exercising, as well as so-called exercise experts swearing that if people exercise on a regular schedule, they can eat whatever their heart or taste buds desire.
While exercise will help promote health, without proper eating habits, it will not help individuals lose weight, nor will it counter the negative effects of produced by processed foods. What must be realized is that, unlike the past 30 years, both children and adults were more physically active. After school activities for children included riding a bike to a friend’s house and playing ball, as opposed to today where children now sit in front of a TV for hours or on their gaming devices. Habits created during childhood tend to stay with people throughout adulthood, and for adults, so much is now accessible by phone and computer, which eliminates the action of walking to a meeting or an appointment and only contributes to the obesity epidemic.
The same holds true for proper eating. While genetically, some systems have always metabolized faster than others, only a much smaller percentage of individuals lived sedentary lives. Accompanied by being more physically active was the fact that prior to the 1950’s most foods were not processed and did not contain unpronounceable ingredients. Milk contained fat, people used oil and butter, and still society was not as obese. Today it is not uncommon for someone to get in his daily dose of rigorous exercise and then treat himself to three slices of pizza or a Big Mac. The truth is that, whatever facts the obesity doomsday nay-sayers use to back their claim against exercise, they are wrong. In fact this epidemic can be cured, but in order for it to work effectively several aspects need to be taken into account, and they are as follows:
There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ cure
What people forget is that obesity is a symptom rather than the cause itself. Genetics are involved in determining the body type and what actions to take. A true nutritional expert can use the genetic makeup to determine which natural route to take, while a qualified personal trainer can create a tailor made exercise routine, which will both burn fat as well increase the energy of the individual.
Informed food choices
Some individuals can eat more and burn faster. Others cannot. While eating healthy by itself will not guarantee weight loss, it will certainly stem weight gain and help the body fight off diseases and ailments. Eating properly also includes understanding the body type and making wise food choices based on that type. Some body types react more negatively to proteins and fats than carbs, while for others the opposite holds true. Wise food choices must be made at all times, which means that although one eats a fruit salad in the morning, eating three slices of pizza that night will counter any of the healthy effects gained from breakfast.
Consistency and portion control
The food industry is perhaps the most lucrative and items like wheat and corn are the most highly subsidized. This in turn leads an overabundance in refined flour and corn products. Over the past 40 years this has led the food industry becoming more aggressive. A prime example is that today, a small popcorn at the movies is relatively the size of what a large one was in the 1970’s. People are eating much larger portions and wondering why their numbers on the scale are increasing.
Overall obsession with losing weight
While weight loss ads are everywhere, society is only growing more obese. This is because people’s act of depriving themselves in the short run is only triggering their cravings and causing them to eat more in the long run. Making matters worse are advertisements for videos or snacks promising pre-determined results. Some body types are generally more wiry, while others have wider frames. The fashion model shown on the side of a bus often has the figure of a child. However, since this has become the gold standard of health, people have been depriving themselves of essential foods. This deprivation has caused the body loses the nutrients it naturally needs, leading to abnormal food cravings and improper digestion. Proper knowledge of what the body needs, natural food choices, and portion control will serve an individual’s needs much more effectively than generalized results.
Proper and consistent exercise choices
Just like the body of each and every individual reacts differently to certain foods, the same goes for exercise. Some receive more positive results from aerobic and cardiovascular activities like walking, running, and biking, while more anaerobic activity like weight lifting and individualized muscle training works better for others. While the individual should strive for both aspects of exercise, it is important to determine where the greater emphasis should be placed.
Obesity can be cured, but a plan of action consisting with considering to the above aspects must be implemented. While it is correct to state that exercise alone is not the cure-all, it is wrong to single it out, and this claim put forward by the obesity doomsday nay-sayers is not serving anyone well. In fact it only contributes to the obesity epidemic as it discourages people who wish to put a serious effort into losing weight, while instilling in them a feeling of helplessness. The truth is exercise does help one lose weight if done in conjunction other positive lifestyle changes, and will do so much more for one’s heath, happiness, and well being.
By Bill Ades