Science writer Sharon Begley is one of my favorite columnists. In Fat canaries in a coal mine (Newsweek, 12/20/10), she tackles the fascinating topic of rising obesity in animals, offering some surprising research on the cause of their weight gain.
Because no changes had been made in their feeding or exercise, Allison concluded that there must be some other explanation which, he wonders, might apply to humans as well. What he’s saying is that we cannot continue to explain the weight increase of Americans by increased calories and decreased exercise alone. One alternate explanation might be gut bacteria which affects the calories we extract from food, that is, the more calorie-extracting microbes we possess, the fatter we get. That means that some folks are more prone to pack on pounds while eating the same amount as others.
Begley identifies other factors that affect weight and weight gain. Such as “sleep debt [which] increases blood levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin and reduces levels of satiety-causing leptin.” She also cites, “endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as BPA, which bind to receptors that trigger proliferation of fat,” how central heating and A/C prevent the body from working hard to burn off calories, and the possibility that the adenovirus-36 could cause a weight rise.
My point here is to help you quit beating yourselves up if it’s hard for you to lose weight or keep it off. Begley’s article underscores the complexity of the subject and how different individual biologies may be. So, yes, be accountable to yourself and focus on becoming a “normal” eater, but please lay off a steady diet of self-blame.
Normal Eating talks and media events