Friday, July 15, 2005

You're Going to Diet!

MSNBC.com today ran the article, "Keep pounds from piling on in middle age" - highlighting the annual trend toward gaining weight as we age. Researchers predict that the average adult American will gain 10-20 pounds in the next ten years! In research studies, adult weight gain correlates with:
  • Higher risk of Diabetes (Type II)
  • Obesity
  • Joint damage and osteoarthritis
  • Higher risk of several cancers, including colon cancer and breast cancer

Specifically, for each two pounds gained, a man's risk for developing diabetes rose by 7%. A one inch increase in waist circumferance over ten years increased risk by 20%. Overweight adults have a three-fold higher risk of developing osteoarthritis of the knees that will require surgery.

As the article points out, [a]lthough adult weight gain is common, you shouldn’t consider it normal or healthy.

Without missing a beat, the article continues by promoting the idea that following the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans will reduce your risk of gaining weight if you reduce your calorie intake and increase your activity.

So just how many extra calories are we talking about?

According to the article, it's as simple as reducing calorie intake by 100-calories each day and increasing activity.

Hmmm, does the math add up? If a two-pound gain each year is "average" that's less than 20-calories per day if we're to believe the "calorie theory." To be more precise, it's 19.2 calorie per day (3500-calories per pound x 2 pounds = 7000/365 days = 19.178).

I have no idea how they decided the recommendation to reduce calorie intake by 100-calories per day. With that decrease in calories, with no significant change in activity, one should lose almost 8.5-pounds in a year after accounting for and deducting the 20-calories per day one must eat to gain 2-pounds in a year.

Which brings me to an interesting article I read recently about the 2005 Dietary Guidelines and Food Guidance Pyramid(s) for Americans by Sandy Szwarc, "MyPyramid Scheme" at TechCentralStation.com. It may help explain the calorie deficit recommended in the MSNBC.com article.

Ms. Szwarc contends that "the new pyramid, MyPyramid, ...puts the nation on a diet. In fact, its calorie recommendations are so restrictive, they endanger the health of Americans. "

"MyPyramid involuntarily subjects Americans, especially figure-conscious females, to the very same risks of dieting and dietary restrictions: dysfunctional eating, food fears and eating disorders; nutritional shortfalls; and health problems such as doubling long-term risks for high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes to name a few."

Are we really being subjected to stealth messages designed to have us perpetually on a diet?

I'm starting to think so. When I visited MyPyramid.gov, the calculator on the homepage recommended I consume 1800-calories per day to maintain my weight and was based on my age, gender and activity level.

If I didn't already know my Basal Metabolic Rate [BMR] and Active Metabolic Rate [AMR], I wouldn't know that the 1800-calories recommended is, in fact, a calorie-deficit of over 850-calories per day for my height and weight. I would also not know that such a calorie intake was barely enough calories to meet my BMR. Such a calorie-deficit would cause an 88-pound weight loss in one year and wreck havoc on my health!

Yes, we have an obesity epidemic in the United States. I do not think a solution is going to be found by recommending sustained calorie deficits, calorie counting, perpetrating fat-phobia while ignoring the very real issues - we eat too much sugar, too many processed foods, too many refined grains, too many damaged fats, too many man-made trans-fats and too many liquid calories.

Simply reducing calories without addressing the problematic foods will not improve our weight or health. The current recommendations are just more of the same recommendations we're been fed a steady diet of for the last 30-years - and still without one study designed to specifically investigate how compliance with the guidelines prevents weight-gain or improves risk factors!

The answer to the obesity epidemic does not lie in counting calories, fat grams or stealthy messages designed to place you unwittingly on a calorie-restricted diet! The solution is one many will not speak of, will not admit, will not dare to go out on the limb of truth with - real food.

2 comments:

  1. It's amazing, isn't it? So many nutritionists still view the body as a simple machine that converts the calories you consume to fat if you don't to exercise that expends the same amount of energy accoring to some guidebook. They don't take into account people of varying sizes, or the fact that varying amounts of muscle mass mean higher metabolisms, nore do they understand the dynamic action of foods that account for how different foods are digested and require different amounts of energy to digest, etc., etc. No, it's all about that dumb formula. Many, such as the ones you quote, are afraid to even suggest elliminating certain foods. It's the whole "Weight Watchers" approach - eat whatever you want, but in "moderation." Obviously this method of eating, or that of a "balanced" diet, is too vague and to open to interpretation. This advice obviously hasn't worked, despite being directed to us for 30 years. Nutritionists and dieticians counter that this is because people aren't following the advice. My contention is that if you have so little sucess getting people do follow this type of plan for any length of time, it's not "doable" and you need to look at whether it's truly both the most health AND the most sustainable way to eat...

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  2. Your readers might be interested in this article I recently wrote.

    Nutrition Guidelines are just a Guide

    The USDA recently published their dietary guidelines for Americans and the recommendation leave a bit to be desired. As Americans our health continues to slip. We have the largest and most expensive insurance and health care system in the world. The following recommendation made by the USDA is just recommendations. As we all know advice is only as good as who receives it. Our children seem to be the ones with the most to lose but the USDA has little to say regarding their eating habits. This report highlights the following recommendations for children.

    Infants should not eat or drink raw milk or any products made from unpasteurized milk, raw or partially cooked eggs or foods containing raw eggs, raw or undercooked meat and poultry, raw or undercooked fish or shellfish, unpasteurized juices and raw sprouts.

    Young children should keep total fat intake between 30 to 35 percent of calories for children 2 to 3 years of age, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils. Consume whole-grain products often. At least half the grains should be whole grains. Children 2 to 8 years should consume 2 cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products. Young children should not eat or drink raw milk or any products made from unpasteurized milk, raw or partially cooked eggs or foods containing raw eggs, raw or undercooked meat and poultry, raw or undercooked fish or shellfish, unpasteurized juices and raw sprouts.

    Children should engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week. The USDA also recommends that kids consume whole-grain products often. At least half the grains should be whole grains. Children up to 8 years should consume 2 cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products. Children 9 years of age and older should consume 3 cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products. Parents should help children to keep their total fat intake between 25 to 35 percent of calories for children 4 years of age to adolescence, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
    This sounds great, but what can we do as a country when our food supply seems filled with everything that the recommendations advise us against eating? Should the general consumer be expected to pay extra to get the food that we as a country need or should growers, butchers, and producers are required to provide the foods at a lower costs. It seems that doing the right thing in this country is very expensive. No wonder we have obesity and other problems looming over our heads every day. If you are interested in reading more about how to eat well and within you r budget then you can get access to the World's #1 Resource for Raw and Living Food Nutrition! By looking on the internet or visiting your local health food store.

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