Yeah, everyone’s getting fat. Shaila M sends us this article telling us what we all know already: there’s a lipid epidemic hitting (North) America! Almost a third of us are porkers. It’s getting to the point where it’s almost economically arguable to sacrifice one portly mid-Western porker to feed a small African village of 200. Hey, it would breathe new life and meaning into the Peace Corps, no?
I don’t mean to mock fat folks. I come from a long line of fatties, and myself was a jolly brown Raywat in my youth; I still have the stretch marks on my neck to prove it, and am terrified of ever sliding down the path fo adiposity again. I also spent two years in Washington, DC, consulting for the NIH in diabetes and obesity research: I know the epidemic is real and it’s nasty.
They say the causes are known: sedentary lifestyles, larger meals and less healthy meals. (Poor people tend to eat poorer quality meals in America, hence are fatter.) There are other factors, too, that I suspect may play a role, though the evidence has yet to be collected. Changing ethnic profiles mean a shift in what is considered an aesthetically pleasing form.
And our increasingly toxic environment, featuring phytates, phyto-estrogens and byproducts of contraception medications flushed down the toilet are contributing to a feminization of the Earth; we see it in wild fish and other biota, in which androgynous characteristics are becoming more frequent. We see it, too, in a global decline in sperm quality and male sexual potency, and not just in humans. (Mind you, this data, too, is problematic because we have no baseline against which to compare them to.)
Biochemical feminization and adiposity are related. And just as externally influenced female hormones can increase fatness, so can fatness decrease a body’s testosterone:estrogen ratio. It’s a vicious, greasy circle.
Also, the definitions of obesity and overweight are absed on BMI, body mass index. A BMI over 30 is considered obese. Over 25 is overweight. Now, as much as I complain about my body, I’m in pretty damned good shape. But my BMI is 27 and climbing, which makes me borderline obese. The problem with BMI is that it does not take into consideration the greater weight of muscle relative to fat and other types of soft tissue. So the fittest, strongest people are in fact categorized as overweight and obese in most national surveys. There’s no way around this (short of doing impedance or water flotation tests on tens of thousands of people), so scientists just hope it all averages out in the end.
But that doesn’t mean Americans aren’t eating too much and exercising too little. And what we/they are eating is crap! Despite a particularly cogent line from the blehh movie Michael, you can have too much sugar. Sugar is not your friend, especially fructose, which causes a greater-than-glucose insulin spike without triggering feelings of satiety. That’s why we should all avoid anything with the words “High Fructose Corn Syrup” on them. HFCS is a cheap and unhealthy way to sweeten foods, especially soda pop. If you do nothing else for your health, give up sweetened soda pop: it’s just liquid candy.
Here are some other things you need to do to get and stay thin: eat lots of calcium, it helps to mobilize abdominal fat; same goes for chromium; eat fatty fishes with a high omega 3:6 ratio (not the reverse!); avoid white breads, pastas, etc. If you must eat starchy foods, stick to whole wheats which are high in fibre and protein. White carbs, like WonderBread, are just soft and mushy sugar. In short, get to know something called a “glycemic index.”
I could go on, but I won’t.
Instead, I will plug my friend Kulpreet’s first venture into the world of blogging.