A new perspective: overeating is not the main cause of obesity
A recent article in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition , entitled “The Carbohydrate-Insulin Model: A Physiological Perspective on the Obesity Pandemic,” challenges the “energy balance model,” which argues that overweight is a consequence of introducing more into the body. energy than it consumes.
According to the authors, “the conceptualization of obesity as a disorder of energy balance reaffirms a principle of physics without taking into account the biological mechanisms underlying weight gain.” The authors support the “carbohydrate insulin model”, which explains obesity as a metabolic disorder caused by what we eat, rather than how much.
Public health messages urging people to eat less and exercise more have failed to stop rising rates of obesity and obesity-related diseases, and the current obesity epidemic is due in part to hormonal responses to obesity. changes in food quality: especially foods with high blood sugar, which fundamentally changes the metabolism. Thus, focusing on what we eat rather than how much we eat is a better strategy for weight management.
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that obesity affects more than 40% of American adults, putting them at higher risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Moreover, the World Health Organization recognizes that, in this century, obesity has an equal or higher prevalence compared to malnutrition and infectious diseases, in the absence of drastic prevention and treatment measures, and predicts that by 2025 more than 50% of the world’s population will be obese (Source here ).
The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, conducted between 2020 and 2025, further tells us that weight loss “requires reducing the number of calories obtained from food and beverages and increasing the amount spent on physical activity.”
This approach to weight management is based on the century-old energy balance model. In today’s world, surrounded by processed, heavily marketed and cheap foods, it is easy for people to eat more calories than they need, an imbalance that is still exacerbated by sedentary lifestyles.
On the other hand, despite decades of public health messages urging people to eat less and exercise more, obesity rates and obesity-related illnesses have risen steadily.
The authors of the article point out the fundamental flaws of the energy balance model, arguing that an alternative model, the carbohydrate-insulin model, better explains obesity and weight gain. Moreover, the carbohydrate-insulin model points the way to more effective and long-lasting weight management strategies.
Unlike the energy balance model, the carbohydrate-insulin model makes a bold statement: excessive consumption is not the main cause of obesity. In contrast, the carbohydrate-insulin model blames much of the current obesity epidemic on modern dietary patterns characterized by excessive consumption of foods with a high glycemic load: in particular, processed carbohydrates, which can be digested quickly. These foods cause hormonal responses that fundamentally change our metabolism, causing fat storage, weight gain and obesity.
When we eat highly processed carbohydrates, the body increases insulin secretion and suppresses glucagon secretion. In turn, this tells fat cells to store more calories, leaving fewer calories available to feed muscles and other metabolically active tissues. The brain perceives that the body does not receive enough energy, which in turn leads to feelings of hunger. In addition, metabolism can slow down the body’s attempt to conserve fuel. Thus, we tend to stay hungry, even if we continue to gain excess fat.
Although the origins of the carbohydrate-insulin model date back to the early 1900s, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition provides its most comprehensive formulation, written by a team of 17 nationally recognized scientists, clinical researchers, and public health experts. Collectively, they have summarized more and more evidence in support of the carbohydrate-insulin model. Moreover, the authors identified a number of testable hypotheses that distinguish the two models to guide future research.
Adopting the carbohydrate-insulin model in relation to the energy balance model has radical implications for weight management and obesity treatment. Instead of urging people to eat less, a strategy that usually doesn’t work in the long run, the carbohydrate-insulin model suggests another way to focus more on what we eat. According to Dr. David Ludwig, an endocrinologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School, “Reducing the intake of fast-digesting carbohydrates that flooded the diet during a low-fat diet decreases the desire to store body fat. As a result, people can lose weight with less hunger and less fighting. ”
The authors acknowledge that further research is needed to conclusively test both models and, perhaps, to generate new models that better fit the evidence. To this end, they call for constructive discourse and “collaborations between scientists with diverse views to test predictions in rigorous and impartial research.”
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