July 15, 2024

Why Are 66% Of Us Overweight?

Why are we overweight?

The world is full of tough questions, but why we are overweight is not one of them.   In fact, most of us know the answer – we put on excess pounds when we consume more calories than we burn.  The problem is, of course, that unless you keep an exact daily list of what you eat and record the corresponding calories, it is very easy to exceed daily caloric requirements.  From the Wall Street Journal, here’s something that may help many of us.

Massachusetts adopted broad rules requiring restaurant chains to post calorie counts on their menu boards, joining California and New York City in a move that the restaurant industry has opposed.

The Massachusetts regulation, which applies to chains with at least 20 restaurants in the state, will take effect in November 2010. Restaurants must post the number of calories in each menu item near the menu listing or price.

Advocates say they hope that posting calorie counts will lead consumers to make healthier eating choices, although evidence so far is scant on that point. About two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Federal health guidelines recommend consumption of 1,600 to 2,400 calories a day for non-exercising adults.

For those of us trying to maintain a healthy weight, knowing the caloric content of what we consume is critical.  I am frequently shocked at the amount of calories in various menu items at popular restaurant chains.   A soda, appetizer and an entree  can easily add up to more than twice the calories one needs in a full day.

The key to losing weight is not rocket science –  consume fewer calories than you burn = weight loss.  This can be done without exotic diets and books and pills.

One of the best ways to lose the extra pounds is to 1) calculate how many calories a day you burn and 2) record the calories of every item you eat in a day to ensure that the total is less than your daily caloric need.   Consider the following useful research:

You aren’t what you eat. You’re how much.

That’s the message from a two-year National Institutes of Health-funded study that assigned 811 overweight people to one of four reduced-calorie diets and found that all trimmed pounds just the same. It didn’t matter what foods participants ate, but rather how many calories they consumed.

The study, published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, put participants on one of four diets:

After two years, they had lost nine pounds on average and trimmed two inches off their waists regardless of which diet they followed.

The message is that dieting may be “much simpler” than everyone thought, says Catherine Loria, a nutritional epidemiologist at the NIH and co-author of the study. Along with choosing healthful foods, “all you have to do is count your calories.”

The findings could influence public policy through efforts to require more disclosure of calorie counts in prepared food, she says. New York City, for instance, recently required chain eateries to put calorie counts on menus. “For the first time, people are seeing that the muffin they used to have in the morning is 400-plus calories

In the NIH study, participants used a Web-based, self-monitoring tool that tracked how their daily food intake met their calorie goals. Debbie Mayer, of Brockton, Mass., says this helped her stay disciplined. “I’d just see the numbers and say, ‘I can’t eat anymore today.'”

Many times simple is better.   Some time ago, I decided that I did not want to be overweight anymore.  After some reflection, I came up with the method described above, prior to the National Health Institutes’s multi year and multi million dollar  study.  It works – I lost around 40 pounds and five years later have not gained it back.

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