This research clearly demonstrates that modern fatness isn’t just a result of the ‘couch potato’ sedentary syndrome. This data shows the POWER OF FOOD as tools to keep our waistlines from getting the better of us!
Okay, okay, everyone knows that obesity is an epidemic worming its nasty way into every culture around the globe. Public health circles (or squares) have mostly thought, understandably, that our rotundonous ways are because modern peoples have become gluttonous sloths assuming the shapes of their couches. Move over Forest Gump; sedentary is as sedentary does. Even the World Health Organization says that we are fat because we simply don’t move enough. Well, elegant research has turned this thinking entirely around on its chubby backside.
Herman Pontzer, an anthropologist, and his team from Hunter College in NY, bless their focused hearts, went to one of the last remaining traditional hunter-gatherer societies, the Hadza peoples of Tanzania. They used modern technology to figure out exactly how much energy these traditional indigenous folk expended in their demanding lives, where both men and women daily walked about 15-20 miles.
But when figuring out how many calories the Hadza folks were actually burning, surprise, surprise; it turned out to not be very different from many of you and me! Despite all this continual physical activity, no couches or Lazyboy recliners or hours in front of computers, these active Hadzas burned about the same number of calories, roughly, as we do. What the heck?
This investigation adds to an emergent bulk of evidence saying the same thing: that energy expenditure is consistent across diverse lifestyles and cultures. Meaning that tribal folks seem to burn as many calories as us sedentary contemporaries here in our cubicles. Wow!
Now, under special circumstances, such as an elite athlete training for a strenuous race, when bodies are pushed hard enough, long enough, then energy expenditure can increase, but usually in the short term, not the long term.
But in the long term, bodies are complex and, it seems, set up through evolution to keep calorie and energy expenditure relatively stable.
The message this sends is critical. These researchers say that if we want to end obesity, we must point our attention to our food; what we put into our mouths is what ultimately dictates body size. It’s more the calories we eat than the ones we burn. And, the real culprits are sugars and portion size. PLoS ONE 2012
I think this is amazing, and research like this puts nutrition at center stage. That’s necessary and good. But, as Paul Harvey would say, it’s not the rest of the story.
For years in practice I have also seen frustrated patients who, no matter how little they ate, or how much incredible dietary discipline they demonstrated, still couldn’t lose weight. Often, when we tested and balanced their hormones, identified and removed stressor foods, improved digestion, worked with special oils that turn on fat hormones, or even worked with the medical team with off-label use of medications, then their jump-started bodies started to lose weight.
Overweight is a complex thing. What we eat matters a lot. How much we eat may matter more. But still the body is a complex organism and all things lean on each other. Each element of our body functions and dysfunctions together. Identifying what is the real issue snagging back your dreams of thinness, I think, goes a bit beyond diet, though, of course, includes and emphasizes diet.
That’s what I think. What do you think?