Saturday, January 8, 2011

beyond our ken

This is a great, really significant article from the CBC profiling Dr. Arya Sharma, chair of obesity research and management at the University of Alberta. It says some important things, I think, about all the factors that contribute to why some us are fat and some of us are thin:
And while sedentary lifestyles and poor food choices do play a factor, one of Canada's leading obesity experts believes much of the problem stems from basic metabolism and the yo-yo dieting that so many obese and overweight people experience.

"I think one of the biggest misconceptions when we talk about obesity in general is that obese people are obese largely because of their lifestyles and because of the way that they live."

Sharma points to studies where people's eating and activity are carefully monitored. They show that some people can eat an additional 1,000 calories per day and not gain a gram, while others would gain five to six kilograms over a six-week period.

"There's a huge variability in how people can cope with extra calories."
We are so sure we Know, at a glance, even, why one person is thin and one is fat. One person does the right things, one does the wrong--right? I feel more and more that we are just a big pile of guinea pigs in our pen, our little genetic predispositions fired with surges from calorie restriction, HFCS, stress, not sleeping, whole foods, processed foods, hunger, prescription meds, no meds--whatever--all of it, and seeing all of their effects in all of us. Body size is just the most visible bit of it, and less in our control than we think. Bodies respond millions of ways to the variables of modern life.
"We keep hammering home the stereotype of the fat, lazy slobs who are eating fast food all the time who are not moving, not exercising or not taking care of themselves, making poor choices, when there's very little science that actually backs this up."
Also worth checking out, and in a similar vein: this piece in Newsweek, "Fat Canaries in a Coal Mine," about an obesity researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmington who discovered a rise of obesity in the majority (23 of 24) animal populations chosen for study since the 1940s. With no explanation.
Food marketing, more TV, and less phys ed can no more explain these fatter animals than they can the epidemic of obesity in babies under 6 months. 
Both pieces well worth a look--fascinating.

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