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You don’t put on weight by eating too much

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The theory that people become overweight and obese because they eat too much and don’t ‘burn’ it off has finally been put to rest by 17 of the world’s leading scientists.

Instead, obesity is caused by eating processed ‘junk’ foods that are sweetened by ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  The quality of the food—and not the quantity—determines weight gain.

The scientists say there is overwhelming evidence to dispute the idea that people put on weight when they consume more energy than they expend.  “During a growth spurt, adolescents may increase food intake by 1000 calories a day, but does their overeating cause the growth spurt or does the growth spurt cause the adolescent to get hungry and overeat?” said Dr David Ludwig, professor at Harvard Medical School, the paper’s lead author.

Rather than trying to get people to eat less—still the prevailing approach to weight loss, and one that invariably fails—they should instead learn about the carbohydrate-insulin model.  It explains that the body releases more insulin to break down the sugars in highly processed carbs, and the excess gets stored as fat instead of fuelling muscles and other tissues.  Because these aren’t getting the nutrients they need, the brain perceives the energy lack and sends signals to eat again, which is why people feel hungry soon after they eat a processed meal.

The good news is that people can lose weight, and not have feelings of hunger, without having to eat less—but just to eat well.

(Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2021; doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqab270)

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Article Topics: nutrition
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