On Tuesday I talked a bit about the analysis in the medical journal The Lancet about the “increasingly polarized” debate on what is causing the rise in obesity rates. The journal’s second series on obesity, published last month, consisted of one editorial and five articles. In this post, I’ll focus on the parts that are likely to be the most useful and/or interesting to you, my readers.
- People have some responsibility for their health.
- Environmental factors can affect the ability of people to exercise personal responsibility.
- The food environment delivers large amount of unhealthy foods to people.
- This, in turn, affects food preferences and sustains or even increases the demand for unhealthy food.
- Low-nutrient, high-calorie foods are highly appetizing and are processed in ways that make it hard for our bodies to regulate how much we eat and how much we weigh.
- Many foods are high in salt, sugar, fat, flavor enhancers and caffeine, which increases their “reward value,” while being low in fiber and protein, which would normally help us feel satisfied and slow absorption of sugar into our bloodstreams.
- When we try to lose weight, we experience changes in brain chemistry, metabolism and hunger/fullness hormones. This can make weight loss difficult!
- Then, when we regain the weight (then lose, then gain, then lose, then gain) we feel like a failure because we failed to lose weight and keep it off.
- These feelings of failure make us more susceptible to promises of quick weight loss results, including the claims from weight loss products that have little-to-no regulation.
- The food industry designs their “food-choice architecture” to promote consumption of foods of low nutritional quality, which have the highest profit margin. This includes the serving size of containers, where items are placed in the supermarket, product pricing and promotional strategies.
- We have a strong tendency to stick with “default options.” This is why the default option in many restaurants is large portions with side orders included, all of which promotes overeating.
- Despite wanting smaller portions, most people rarely deviate from the status quo by asking for less food!
- High-calorie, low-nutrient foods tend to be inexpensive, and many people are on a budget.
- Quick and convenient (but less healthy) ready-to-eat foods are appealing to household where women work all day.
- The modern food environment exploits these vulnerabilities (the need for quick and/or cheap food).