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Obesity Continues to Rise Around the World, Affecting 1 in 10 People—Fueling Illness and Death

Leanness Without Hunger or Breaking the Bank

Obesity is a growing problem around the world. The remedy requires action by each individual. Knowledge is the key. A few simple guidelines will put us on the road to leanness.

A massive study published June 12, 2017, in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that between 1980 and 2015 obesity has doubled in more than 70 countries and has continued to increase in most other countries. While fewer children are obese than adults, the rate of increase in childhood obesity has been greater than in adult obesity. In the US, 12.5% of children were obese, up from 5% in 1980. Combining children and adults, the US had the largest increase of any country, jumping from 16% to 26.5% of the overall population.

No country in the world has reduced overweight or obesity levels.

Excess body weight accounted for 4 million deaths and 120 million disability-adjusted life-years worldwide. That’s in 2015 alone! Nearly 70% of the deaths were due to cardiovascular disease (diabetes and kidney disease are other major factors). Surprisingly, more than 40% of those deaths occurred in persons who were not obese, overweight but not obese.

About the only good news is that disease burden is lagging obesity, owing mainly to a decrease in underlying rates of death from cardiovascular disease. Drugs are curbing ailments such as high blood pressure.

The problem is clear, but the remedy is difficult.

The authors and others blame the food environment—the growing availability of inexpensive, nutrient poor, packaged foods.

“It is all very nice to talk about the need to eat less unhealthy foods and more healthy foods,” Adam Drewnowsk, director of the Center for Public Health Nutrition at the University of Washington, told The New York Times. “[But] unhealthy foods cost less; healthier foods often cost more. People eat what they can afford.”

Unfortunately, the solution is nowhere in sight, according to Dr. Ashkan Afshin, the lead author of the study.

“[No country] has been able to control the food environment, which seems to be the main driver of obesity,” he told The New York Times.

You’ll find many more details in the article by Matt Richtel in The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/12/health/obesity-study-10-percent-globally.html?_r=0

Let’s look at the road to leanness—without breaking the bank.

Leanness Without Hunger or Breaking the Bank

The first requirement, of course, is commitment. You must want to become and stay lean. I don’t dispute that the availability of unhealthy cheap food is a driver of obesity. But I believe that most people can afford healthy foods—if they know what to buy and when to buy it. For example, dry beans and whole grains are relatively inexpensive year 'round. And vegetables and other produce are available at reasonable prices seasonally. (Kids don't want to be fat. Bargain shopping for healthy foods should be taught in middle school.)

It's not widely known, but Dr. Kenneth Cooper came out of medical school 40 pounds overweight and hypertensive.
After a heart attack scare, he made a commitment to lose the weight and keep it off. That was 56 years ago and he still
 weighs what he did in high school running track. "Otherwise, I was right on the same pathway as my other medical
colleagues and I'd be dead already," he told a reporter recently. "I'm sure of it," he added.

Boiled down to its essence, healthy eating is relatively simple. Done properly, you’ll never be hungry, dissatisfied—or broke.

The secret lies not in how much you eat, but what you eat. If you eat the right foods you can almost eat as much as you want and still lose weight; it's actually hard to overeat. What happens is you become full and satisfied before you take in more calories than you burn. Hunger and deprivation have little or nothing to do with it. See Dr. David Ludwig’s revolutionary book Always Hungry? http://www.cbass.com/unlockfatcells.htm

The first rule is to choose whole foods the way they come in nature—and avoid refined food. If you can’t tell where a food came from, don’t buy it and don’t eat it. See our FAQ on processed and unprocessed foods: http://www.cbass.com/FAQ(10).htm (scroll down)

Make the bulk of your diet whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans—the foods that fill you up without overshooting your calorie needs. Avoid refined grains and sugary foods, which stimulate your appetite and encourage you to overeat.

Believe it or not, fat in your diet helps to keep you lean. That’s because it slows digestion and keeps you satisfied longer. The key is eat good fats, which include nuts, vegetable oils, eggs, fish, and full-fat dairy. Avoid the fat found in fried foods, candy, and pastry. See http://www.cbass.com/unscramblingdietaryfat.htm

The protein in your diet should come mainly from dairy, eggs, fish, and occasionally poultry and lean meat. Avoid fried and processed meats.

For a continuum of foods from “Benefit” to “Harm” see “Milk in the Middle.” http://www.cbass.com/milk.htm

The Calorie-Saver Rule

Now, let’s shift gears and talk about a rule that will keep you from eating thousands of calories you don’t really want.

Only put on the table the food you plan to eat. Put everything else away before you start eating. If you want more, get up and get it—but stop and think about it first. Take it from me, you’ll almost always decide you’ve had enough.

Another helpful weight management tool is regular weighing. I have a record going back almost 30 years, using a body composition scale that measures fluctuations in body fat and muscle mass, as well as bodyweight. This alerts me when adjustments in my diet or activity level are needed. This was especially helpful before and after my recent hip replacement, when my activity level was restricted. I maintained my usual eating pattern and kept training and moving as much as I could, and was happy to know that my weight and body composition were little changed. For details on my use of the Tanita body composition scale, see our FAQ page: http://www.cbass.com/FAQ6.htm (scroll down)

*  *  *

Those are the main things you need to know to become and stay lean. These simple weight management methods have kept me lean—and happy—for years on end.

For more on evidence-based weight control, see "18 Keys to Healthy Weight Loss" from the Berkeley Wellness Letter: http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/diet-weight-loss/article/18-keys-healthy-weight-loss  

July 1, 2017

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