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Study Finds 5 Reasons We’re Getting Fatter (And It’s Not Just Calories and Exercise)

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Larger doorways, roomier seats in airlines, more forgiving clothing — it’s a fact that more and more people today are getting larger around the middle. Obesity rates have more than tripled since 1980.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excess weight is linked to a wide range of health problems, such as mental health issues, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and even certain types of cancer.

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Not only is obesity associated with the top causes of death world wide, it places incredible strain on health care systems as well. In fact, obesity-related health care costs the U.S. an estimated 147 billion annually, nearly 21% of our annual medical spending.

This should be mind blowing to most of us.

While calories consumed and burned are the underlying cause of weight problems, a recent study has discovered that calories aren’t the sole cause of America’s weight gain, but suggests that there are other factors at play.

The Risk Factors of Today’s Obesity Epidemic

In a study led by Professor Jennifer Kuk and funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, researchers looked at the dietary data of 36,400 adults between 1971 and 2008. They compared three factors: macronutrients consumed, total calories and exercise. The findings revealed that if all three factors were identical between an individual in 1988 and an individual of the same age in 2006, the individual from 2006’s body mass index would still be approximately 10 percent higher. In summary, the modern day individual is more likely to be obese.

The researchers identified the five areas that may be influencing weight gain today:

  1. Stress: long term, chronic stress affects your brain and can increase hunger as well as contribute to poor eating habits like stress eating.
  2. Environmental toxins: modern homes and household products are full of toxins, such as BPAs, PCBs, agricultural pesticides and fire retardants, which have an affect on the human body.
  3. Food quality: additives and preservatives are more widespread in foods today versus years ago, when locally sourced or home grown foods were more plentiful.
  4. RX drugs: some common prescription drugs, such as steroids or antidepressants, have a known side affect of weight gain.
  5. Gut microbes: highly processed meats and foods, a staple of many modern diets, create an intestinal imbalance in which unhealthy intestinal bacteria are in abundance.

Easy Steps to Avoid Weight Gain

While daily caloric intake versus calories burned remains the underlying factor in maintaining a healthy weight, these findings support taking a closer look the big picture. In addition to what you are eating and your daily fitness, examine the outside factors to which you are exposed.

Positive steps to take include:

  • Fill your diet with organic, whole foods to minimize consumption of additives and preservatives. For a simple guide to shopping organic produce, check out our article The 15 Foods You Must Buy Organic.
  • Maintain a realistic and enjoyable regular exercise routine. The CDC recommends following the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans here.
  • Increase your daily dose of probiotics and probiotic foods to foster a healthy intestinal balance.

Obesity is a serious problem, and embracing any changes to fight back is a positive step. In addition to helping to maintain a healthy weight, many of these factors serve to support good health in general and have a positive impact on the environment.

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/adult/causes.html

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-graphs-that-show-why-people-get-fat

http://theheartysoul.com/weight-gain-ancestors/

https://health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/

https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/adult/causes.html


Debbie Swanson Debbie Swanson is a freelance writer, published in numerous national and local outlets. An avid vegetarian, animal lover and reader, she loves learning about healthy eating and finding natural cures for everyday ailments.


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