Weatherford Democrat

Online Only

December 27, 2013

5 myths about obesity

The obesity epidemic is among the most critical health issues facing the United States. Although it has generated a lot of attention and calls for solutions, it also has served up a super-sized portion of myths and misunderstandings.

1. If you're obese, you can blame your genes.

As obesity rates have soared, some researchers have focused on individuals' genetic predisposition for gaining weight. Yet, between 1980 and 2000, the number of Americans who are obese has doubled — too quickly for genetic factors to be responsible.

So why do we eat more than we need? The simple answer: Because we can. At home and at restaurants, a dollar puts more calories on our plates than ever before. Before World War II, the average family spent as much as 25 percentof its total income on food — in 2011, it was 9.8 percent. And people eat out now more than in the past. In 1966, the average family spent 31 percentof its food budget dining from home — in 2011, it was 49 percent. Because restaurant meals usually have more calories than what we prepare at home, people who eat out more frequently have higher rates of obesity than those who eat out less. Meanwhile, the food industry has developed tens of thousands of products with more calories per bite, as well as new, effective marketing strategies to encourage us to buy and consume more than necessary. We should blame these business practices, which are modifiable, for obesity rather than our genes, which are not.

2. If you're obese, you lack self-control.

According to a 2006 study, "research on restrained eating has proven that in most circumstances dieting is not a feasible strategy." In other words: People won't lose weight by trying to eating less because they can't easily control themselves. Unfortunately, this puritanical view of personal resolve plays down how our surroundings and mental state determine what we eat.

Text Only
Online Only
Must Read
Top News
House Ads
AP Video
Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' House Committee at Odds Over Obama Lawsuit Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Raw: UN School Used As Shelter Hit by Tank Shell Raw: Gunmen Attack Iraqi Prison Convoy Plane Leaves Ukraine With More Crash Victims The Rock Brings Star Power to Premiere Raw: Families Travel to Taiwan Plane Crash Site Arizona Execution Takes Almost Two Hours Gen. Odierno Discusses Ukraine, NATO at Forum Gaza Fighting Rages Amid Cease-Fire Efforts Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-lift Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return