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Fatness / Obesity is the No. 1 Health Threat (Center for Disease Control)

Over 100 million Americans (55% of the adult population) exhibit fatness and obesity (1). With all the diets and programs on the market, why are we still getting fatter?

The answer is simple; the low-calorie fad diets used to create weight loss only provide half the answer to fatness. They have forgotten that metabolism is controlled by enzymes and these enzymes require specific nutrients (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, etc.) to function properly and prevent fatness and obesity. Most low-calorie diets don’t provide enough of these nutrients and the result is loss of lean body mass, reduced metabolism and post-diet weight gain.

Nearly 23% of U.S. adults are considered clinically obese – and the numbers continue to rise each year (1;8). Far too many people simply don’t look and feel as great as they would like. Being obese can negatively affect mood, attitude, self-esteem and the ability to enjoy life to the fullest. Yet the medical consequences of fatness or obesity may be even more severe.

It’s no secret that excess fatness and obesity are leading health problems in North America. The consequences of being obese are clear, and include various metabolic problems, including high cholesterol, insulin resistance and high blood pressure (7). Sleep apnea can also result, as well as joint problems(7). The risk of developing many of these conditions increases with the severity of excess weight, but the good news is that losing even ten pounds can dramatically reduce the risk of the problems associated with fatness and for many people is enough to improve factors such as blood pressure and cholesterol(12).

The equation for gaining and losing weight is actually very simple: If you use more calories than you consume, you will lose weight and if you consume more calories than you use, you will increate fatness and obesity(7;16). For this reason, low-calorie diets have proved the most common way to shed those unwanted pounds. However, there are several drawbacks to this method of weight loss. First, very low calorie diets decrease the activity of your metabolic enzymes and cause a loss of lean body mass(14;16). Second, metabolism can quickly drop as caloric intakes are lowered, resulting in post-diet weight gain and more fatness even when normal caloric intakes are resumed(16). The consequences of this weight loss-gain cycle include increases in stored abdominal fat, an increased desire to consume fat resulting in higher percentages of recurring fatness and obesity, and an increased number of deaths due to cardiovascular disease(19).

Although there can be negative outcomes of calorie restriction for long-term weight loss, scientists are uncovering the amazing health benefits–in addition to looking great–of healthy low calorie diets. Many studies performed on animals have shown an increase in life span and delayed onset of age-related disease and certain terminal illnesses(6;11;18).

The nutrient density of the diet is the reason why calorie reduction can be either negative or positive. Nutrient density is the vital principle that has scientists pushing the health care industry to take another look at calorie restriction to combat fatness and obesity. It is not the low number of calories that is responsible for ruining basal metabolic rate; it is the low nutrient consumption coupled with inefficient cellular delivery that is destroying metabolism and increasing fatness and obesity(11;16;18).

The problem with most low-calorie diets is that the body senses a shortage of nutrients for making energy, so it compensates by slowing metabolism, thus increasing fatness and obesity.

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1. International Journal of Obesity 22: 39-47, 1998.
2. FDA TALK PAPER: FDA APPROVES NEW HEALTH CLAIM FOR SOY PROTEIN AND CORONARY HEART DISEASE. T99-48. 10-20-1999. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Ref Type: Report
3. American Heart Association. American Heart Association Nutrition Committee recommends adding soy protein to daily diet to reduce high cholesterol levels. http://www.americanheart.org/ . 2001. American Heart Association. 12-6-2001. Ref Type: Electronic Citation
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