All entries for Wednesday 01 March 2006

March 01, 2006

The way we eat now

Writing about web page http://harvardmagazine.com/2004/05/the-way-we-eat-now.html

This is a fascinating and detailed article about the ways in which modern diets and lifestyles are thoroughly incompatible with the ways our bodies have evolved. The strapline for the article is:-

Ancient bodies collide with modern technology to produce a flabby, disease-ridden populace.

... and that’s just about right. None of this is new news, of course: fast food is bad for you, portion sizes keep going up, sugar is a shock to the system. But the statistics that are scattered throughout this article are still startling:-

  • Two-thirds of American adults are overweight, and half of these are obese.
  • In 1980, 46% of U.S. adults were overweight; by 2000, the figure was 64.5%: nearly a 1% annual increase in the ranks of the fat. At this rate, by 2040, 100% of American adults will be overweight.
  • Today, Americans eat 200 calories more food energy per day than they did 10 years ago.
  • “The best single behavioral predictor of obesity in children and adults is the amount of television viewing,” says the School of Public Health’s Gortmaker. “The relationship is nearly as strong as what you see between smoking and lung cancer. Everybody thinks it’s because TV watching is sedentary, you’re just sitting there for hours — but that’s only about one-third of the effect. Our guesstimate is that two-thirds is the effect of advertising in changing what you eat.”
  • There is only one window for accumulating bone mass — during the first two decades of life. “Peak bone mass occurs at the end of adolescence,” Lieberman explains, “and we lose bone steadily thereafter. Kids who are active grow more robust bones. If you’re sedentary as a juvenile, you don’t grow as much bone mass — so as you get older and lose bone mass, you drop below the threshold for osteoporosis.”
  • Eating high-glycemic foods dumps large amounts of glucose suddenly into the bloodstream, triggering the pancreas to secrete insulin. Going through this kind of physiologic stress three to five times per day may double the risk of heart attacks.

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