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Posts tagged ‘overweight’

The many reasons why we seem to be losing the fight against rising obesity

As I have written before, the classic weight loss advice to ‘eat less, move more’ has fallen from popularity in recent years. Frankly, those of us in this industry still promoting ‘eat less, move more’ as relevant advice in the face of the rising obesity epidemic are seen as rather outdated, rather old-school. As I have also written before, I do believe that the advice should be updated to ‘eat less, eat better, and move more’ which rather improves on, and corrects, the original expression.

But still, it’s far more current to besmirch all that old school talk as being fattist, as lacking understanding, as being outdated, outmoded and out-of-touch. It’s considered politically incorrect these days to suggest that obesity is on the rise because people eat too much and don’t exercise enough, and indeed it’s now becoming popular to say that any so-called health professional preaching such ancient wisdom is poorly educated and lacking in sympathy and understanding for the victims of the root causes of rising obesity.

To suggest that obese people ‘just eat less and move more’ is now seen as being about as constructive and helpful as telling a depressed person to ‘just get over it and cheer up a bit’. It’s now fashionable and politically correct to see obesity as an eating disorder, and to say that anyone preaching ‘eat less, move more’ is guilty of the most heinous of 21st century crimes – fat shaming.

In our complex modern world, with obesity growing at an alarming rate (or is that just changes to the system of classification?) there are many factors we can blame for rising obesity.

I could go on, but I think that’s enough for now.

All of these factors are relevant, they all play a role, they are all true, all valid, ALL OF THEM account for why some people are overweight, and all of them matter. I am not disagreeing with any one of the thigns on that list, or a dozen more, such as the role of environmental pollution, the rise in the number of TV channels, the role of anti-obesity attitudes in our society, the availability and nutritional content of school lunches, the increase in sugar content in foods, and so on and so on.

But here’s the thing. Read more

Eat less, move more…the diet deniers strike back…

Following the last post, this blog has registered it’s first official reader complaint!
A milestone to be sure!

In the last post I wrote about the ‘eat less, move more’ phrase, and how many health and fitness professionals, people I referred to as ‘the diet deniers’ for a bit of a tease, discard this phrase as being unscientific nonsense that has no place in helping solve our global obesity crisis. If you have not yet read that post, you may like to go and read it now.

In that post, I argue that in fact, eat a little less and move a whole lot more is great advice that probably is highly applicable to at least half or maybe as many as three quarters of all the overweight and obese people in our society that need and want to lose some weight. I went on to say that the saying should be revised to ‘eat less, eat better, and move more’ to meet the needs of as many people as possible.

Steve, a really good friend of mine, read that post, and challenged me on my thoughts. You know who your true friends are; it’s the people who don’t mind openly challenging you in the hopes that one, or both of you, might learn something. True friends can challenge each other without fear of upset or conflict, when you share the common aim of learning, when you both just seek the truth.

My friend Steve is a Personal Trainer, and a damn good one at that. He’s young, just turned 30, and he’s in great shape, he looks the part, lean, muscular, fit and strong and healthy. He’s always been in good shape, since playing sport at school, and he’s a highly qualified PT, constantly taking courses, expanding his knowledge base, always learning. Steve is roughly six foot tall, and he weighs a little over 13 stones (he’s around 186 pounds, or 85 kilos), so he’s pretty muscular, athletic looking I would say, and low enough body fat to have visible abs.

He challenged my thoughts last week and said that he thought I was being overly simplistic, he laughed and said “I’m one of your diet deniers! I think a few people should ‘eat less and move more’, but for most overweight people out there that’s not enough, they need personalised help, help with nutrition, perhaps a low carb diet, a ketogenic diet maybe, or they need help with a personalised training plan, they definitely need more than just ‘eat less, move more’.”

Here’s how the conversation followed –

Karl: Sure, all those things will be a big help to a lot of people, and for sure once someone is ‘on their way’ and the weight is starting to come off, they may need those things to keep making forward progress and to get into really great shape. But for a lot of folks, they just need to get started, they need to stop over eating and get out of their sedentary rut, start moving more.

Steve: Nope, that’s not enough man!

Karl: OK, try this for me buddy. I want you to experience something for me. You’re still a young buck, only 30, and you’re very healthy and in great shape. At your age, I know you can do this, I know you can do this experiment for me and come back from it, no long term damage, you’re the expert.

Steve: Go on…? Read more

The diet deniers

Eat less, move more – annoying cliché, or inconvenient truism?

I have been following the diet industry, in one way or another, for almost 30 years now, either as a customer trying to lose weight, or as a professional who ‘cracked the code’ and is now trying to help others.

I have seen trends sweep through this industry – fashions, buzzwords, fad diets of course, that come and go. A few years ago, the phrase ‘eat less, move more’ became ‘the latest thing’ in the media, perhaps rising partly off the back of the popularity of Paleo diets. The increasing use of this expression seemed to rise as a result of press articles summarising the words of doctors, scientists and personal trainers who were promoting studies showing that lack of exercise and the ease of access to hyperpalatable, high-sugar, obesogenic foods were the main societal drivers of the obesity and type-2 diabetes epidemics.

Now, the latest, latest new thing, in the last year or so, has been to decry this expression as the most naïve and pointless weight loss advice ever promoted! It has become très trendy among the educated classes to laugh at the idea that eating less and moving more could possibly be good advice in tackling the rising obesity problem.

Almost every day now I read posts by diet and nutrition bloggers, or I see books from doctor-this and PhD-that, brushing off ‘eat less, move more’ as laughably short-sighted, and “anyone who says that clearly doesn’t understand the complex factors driving the obesity epidemic” and “oh how silly, if only it was that simple” and “telling an obese person to eat less is as pointless as telling a depressed person to just cheer up.”

Well ex-cuse me, you highly-educated diet-snob, but I’ve been both an obese person, and a depressed person, and I can tell you ‘eat less, move more’ worked a hell of a lot more effectively for me than ‘just cheer up’ ever did, so you can stick your PhD where the sun don’t shine pal, because I’m pretty darned certain that about 50% or more of all the overweight and obese people I see and meet out there in the real world damn well need to just eat a little less, and move a whole lot more, and in a great many cases they are perfectly happy to admit it!

Obesity is a multifactorial condition

Now I know the obesity epidemic is being driven by a lot of complex factors. I know some people overeat as an emotional crutch to make up for traumatic or psychologically damaging events that happened in their past, sure that maybe accounts for about 5% of the overweight and obese people out – probably only really 1% or 2%, but I am being generous.

And I know that there are genetic factors, some people Read more

Fitness or fatness?

Is it healthier to be slim but not fit, or overweight but physically fit?

Does it even matter?

I spotted this question being debated – rather excitedly to be honest – online in a Facebook Group and I thought I would share it with you.

There are many opinions on this. Some people think we should stop obsessing over body image, and there is too much public pressure on us to be thin. Some people say it’s wrong to assume that an overweight or obese person is either lazy, unfit or unhealthy. Maybe that person exercises and is physically fit, they just happen to be overweight too.

Others point out that being overweight or obese is a risk factor for many poor health conditions, such as type-2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. This is true, being overweight or obese is a risk factor for all these diseases, in fact being overweight or obese is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer in the UK, and worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation.

But while being overweight or obese contributes to several of our most prevalent diseases, so does a lack of physical exercise. That’s right, when we look at lists of all the factors causing type-2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer, while we see ‘overweight and obesity’ on the list, in every case, ‘lack of exercise’ is right there on the same list too.

If we dig a little deeper, we actually find out that fitness matters more than fatness, when it comes to all-cause mortality. If you read the short abstract from that study which was published in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, you’ll see that overweight and obese people who maintained good physical fitness, lived about as long as normal weight people who maintained good levels of physical fitness too. As the article says “Compared to normal weight-fit individuals, unfit individuals had twice the risk of mortality regardless of BMI.”

So there you have it. It turns out that it’s more important to be fit, than to be thin, if living a long healthy live and avoiding major diseases is your objective.

In a society that values ‘the body beautiful’ so much, and uses stereotypes of slim and lean models for advertising and marketing, it seems we have been putting too much focus on looks and not enough focus on action. If we want to hold back heart disease and cancer for as long as possible, then we should enjoy regular exercise more and stop worrying so much about our bodyfat levels. It seems the 6-pack really is just about vanity, rather than health.

Of course, at Mother Nature’s Diet we already knew this! Our focus has always been on being healthy, and I have said for years that if we work towards being healthy on the inside, our bodies will take care of how we look from the outside.

In my own personal weight loss journey, I wrestled with my weight for 20 years, yo-yo dieting in and out of obesity. All that time my focus was on losing weight to try to look better and feel happier about myself. Only when I changed my focus to being healthy did I finally crack it, and lost 7 stone 3, that’s 101 pounds of fat, or 46 kilos to my European friends.

Living by the 12 Core Principles of Mother Nature’s Diet we focus on eating healthy nourishing whole foods, we don’t count calories, and we aim to stay active and exercise almost every day.

Sounds like we’re doing the right thing if you ask me.
Well done, keep going!

To your good health!

Are we normalising obesity?

The rising obesity problem is a subject that is constantly in the news these days. As with every ‘latest thing’ that comes in and out of the public consciousness, when a topic is hot, we find every journalist and blogger out there writing about it, and opinions become varied, multitudinous and often contentious. And so it is with obesity.

In recent years we have seen many opinions about obesity, and read much shared research. We see that obesity can be blamed on genes, and we can read that childhood obesity is down to parenting, not junk food. We might read in the news that obesity could be classified as an eating disorder, or the next day the news will tell us that obesity is caused by poverty. We read that in the US, obesity is being treated as a disease, and we see obesity being blamed on something called obesogenic environments. Another day we may read about the obesity-promoting role of hyperpalatable foods, and we are constantly reading that sugar is to blame for obesity, and other addictive foods. We see the obesity epidemic blamed on the giant corporations of the food industry, and we may have even read that obesity is socially contagious.

Amid all this, while many derogatory words have been written about obese people over the years, now we see the tide turning. Many journalists and bloggers are now reporting that fat shaming does no good, it only makes things worse, it hurts people, and it’s time to stop blaming obese people for their condition; we must be more understanding and supportive. It is suggested that obesity is actually just a learned set of behaviours. We are seeing new reports that obese people are treated differently, to their detriment, by the doctors, and some experts are saying that if you put together everything above, then it plain isn’t your fault if you are fat.

Normalising obesity

It certainly is a contentious topic. I’m not going to go through all those news articles linked above and address each one of them in turn, giving my analysis and opinion on them all, that would take many pages of writing. Suffice to say that some of those articles I broadly agree with, some I largely disagree with, and most, or perhaps all of them, I would say contain some truth, but not ‘the only truth’.

The weight problem in the UK is accelerating rapidly. Official data from 2013 shows that 26% of men in the UK are obese, and 67% of men in the UK are either overweight or obese. For women, those figures are 24% and 57%, respectively. Of all the large, populous nations in Western Europe, the UK is the fattest. In the United States, the problem is even worse, with 71% of men and 62% of women overweight or obese.

To give that data some context, 50 years ago, in the mid-1960s, obesity in the UK stood at around 1.5% (1.8% men, 1.2% women, in 1965).  Read more

MND stance on alcohol

Alcohol is another topic I am asked about literally all the time, like pretty much every single day. Alcohol can be an emotive topic for a lot of people, and it is something many people find hard to give up. Or perhaps more pertinent…it’s something that I find, with a lot of people, they are very resistant to the thought of completely giving it up.

Personally, I am teetotal now, just over 3 years at time of writing, and I can honestly say it’s one of the best decisions I have ever made. Certain friends gently encouraged me in this direction using wisdom not pressure, and I am eternally grateful to them for that little ‘gentle push’. Now I am clear and free from having alcohol in my life, I look at the world of alcohol and what it does to people, with a very clear external view of the effect this psychotropic drug has on people’s lives.

You can read about how, when and why I personally quit (I used to drink quite a lot) here:
https://mothernaturesdiet.me/2013/07/01/alcohol-are-you-in-control-of-your-relationship-with-alcohol/

Now, to address the MND official position on alcohol, and the question I am most commonly asked, which is usually something like “I understand that heavy boozing is bad for you and it will make you fat, but don’t they say moderate alcohol consumption is good for you? Isn’t it supposed to be healthier to drink a glass of red wine every day, than to abstain completely?”

If you intend to completely live the MND way, then I recommend Read more