Where is that Weight Coming From?

Where is that Weight Coming From?Obesity rates in the U.S. have soared in the past five decades, climbing from 13.4 percent of the adult population in 1960, to 35.7 percent in 2012. Nearly 70 percent of adults are either overweight or obese. While many people would like to blame obesity on genetic factors, these data tell a different story.

Yes, some people may have a genetic predisposition to excess weight, but for the vast majority of the population, there are other factors at play.

We’re drinking lots of sugary beverages.

Between 1977 and 2001, average daily sugar intake from sweetened beverages increased by 278 calories, thanks to both increased portion sizes and an increase in the number of daily servings. Excess sugar has been linked with increased belly fat, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, as well as metabolic issues, like insulin resistance, that interfere with weight loss. Plus, it has a negative effect on hormones related to weight maintenance and weight gain.

We’re eating more junk food.

Whether we eat at a fast-food joint, restaurant, or even at home, Americans are eating far more processed food full of empty calories and unhealthy fats. We’re also eating away from home far more often. A century ago, about 90 percent of meals were eaten at home; today, only about 50 percent of meals are home-cooked—and many of those meals include unhealthy, processed foods.

Food is much cheaper and more varied.

While some staples have decreased in price compared to disposable income, the lowest-priced foods tend to be processed or “junk” foods reliant on cheaper, less healthy ingredients. At the same time, variety of junk foods has increased, and studies indicate when we have more food options, we tend to eat more.

We’re sleeping less.

Lack of sleep wreaks havoc with hormones helping us control hunger and weight loss or gain. During the past few decades, the average amount of sleep has decreased by an hour or two per night. Shorter sleeping time has emerged as one of the primary individual risk factors for obesity, associated with a 55% increased risk in adults and an 89% increased risk in children.

We’re simply eating more.

Average calorie intake has increased substantially since 1960, from about 2,200 calories per day to about 2,600. At the same time, we’re expending about 100 fewer calories per day at our jobs.

Taken together, these and similar trends have resulted in changes in the way our bodies work and the way we’re able to efficiently process food and calories. If you’re overweight or obese, a medical weight loss program can help you overcome these trends and live a healthier life.

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