What Makes People Fat: A New Theory of Obesity

What makes people fat?

We’ve all heard so many answers, no wonder we’re confused.

Is it fat? Carbs? Lack of exercise? Genetics? Socio-economic class? So many factors, so few definitive conclusions.

But what if it was something else? What if a major cause of obesity was the way we mix fat and carbs together into highly processed foods? What if a significant cause of our obesity epidemic was the processing of food and the inability of our brains to catch up quickly enough to these nutritional changes?

That’s the basis of “A New Theory of Obesity” published recently in Scientific American, and it’s a fascinating focus on ultra-processed foods and what may be their ability to trigger neural signals that make us want to eat more.

What this study found was that when faced with ultra-processed foods, we eat more and we don’t feel as full. This, as you can imagine, is a problem. And guess what it’s related to? Your gut-brain signals. (Once again, the gut is a major factor!)

I’d recommend you read this article because nutrition researcher Kevin Hall has some interesting observations: “His studies suggest that a dramatic shift in how we make the food we eat—pulling ingredients apart and then reconstituting them into things like frosted snack cakes and ready-to-eat meals from the supermarket freezer—bears the brunt of the blame. This ‘ultra-processed’ food, he and a growing number of other scientists think, disrupts gut-brain signals that normally tell us that we have had enough, and this failed signaling leads to overeating.”

So what’s this all mean to you and me? We should keep doing what we know works for our health:

  • Eat simple, unprocessed whole foods.
  • Limit your intake of processed foods.
  • Move daily, Walk a lot. Sleep at night.

Nobody knows yet what definitively makes people fat but we’re getting closer to figuring out significant causal factors. Keeping yourself informed is half the battle.



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