The real reason it's harder than ever to lose weight – us news
The Real Reason It’s Harder Than Ever to Lose Weight A new study shows that your
parents had it easier than you do.
New research suggests the recent rise in obesity is caused by more than just diet and exercise.
No, it’s not your imagination. It
really is harder to lose weight than ever before – and not just because
McDonald’s now serves breakfast all day.
According to a recent study
published in the journal
Obesity Research & Clinical Practice, past generations
could eat more, exercise less and still not weigh as much as you do.
For the study, researchers at York
University and the University of Alberta collected data on the eating habits of
36,400 American adults between 1971 and 2008, as well as data on the physical
activity levels of 14,419 adults between 1988 and 2006. After examining their body
mass indexes, physical activity routines, caloric intake and amounts of
carbohydrates, protein and fat consumed, they found that given the same eating
and exercise habits, people weigh more now than they used to.
a given food intake, people are about 10 percent heavier in 2008 than they were
in 1971 and about 5 percent heavier for a given exercise level in 2008 than
they were in 1988,” says study co-author Jennifer L. Kuk, associate professor of kinesiology and health science
at York University in Toronto. “This
study suggests that there is more than diet and exercise that is contributing
to the rise in obesity.” According to the
U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 1988 and 1994, 58.8
percent of American adults were overweight or obese. Between 2011 and 2012,
74.9 percent were.
So if it’s not just
poor eating habits and days spent sitting in an office chair that are
contributing to today’s larger-than-ever waistlines, what is? Experts share six
things that make losing weight nowadays complicated.
The air is getting murkier – and air pollution influences the
body’s metabolism, making it easier to gain weight and store fat, says
Kuk, noting that this may explain why many wild animals and lab rats are also
gaining weight every decade. What’s more, a 2015 study published in
Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that people who were regularly
exposed to noise from trains, aircraft or vehicles had larger waistlines than
those who weren’t subjected to constant traffic noise.
Additives and Chemicals
While the exact effects of pesticides, antibiotics,
preservatives and other chemicals in our food and water supply is still up for
major debate, research suggests they all may be “detrimental to our
waistlines,” says Holly F. Lofton, an internal medicine physician with the
Weight Management Program at NYU Langone Medical Center. After all, their use has been
steadily increasing along with our weight. Between just 1996 and 2011, U. S.
pesticide use increased by an estimated 404 million pounds, or 7 percent,
according to research from the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resource. And, according to animal research published in PLOS ONE, those
pesticides result in insulin resistance and increased fat storage.
3. Later Nights
can call yourself a night owl, but humans aren’t nocturnal. In fact, research
published in Obesity suggests that eating at night – even if you don’t eat any
extra calories – contributes to weight gain by altering the body’s circadian
rhythms. And people who eat most of their food at night have higher body mass
indexes than people who eat earlier in the day do, according to research
published in the International Journal
of Obesity. Meanwhile, nighttime light exposure via computers, phones
and tablets is linked to disrupted sleep, which affects your body’s
levels of stress hormones, your metabolism and how much fat you burn and how
much you store around your stomach, Kuk
4. Increased Medication Use
“Many medications decrease your metabolism or increase your
tendency to store fat,” Kuk says, including: antidepressants, antihistamines, antipsychotics,
beta-blockers, corticosteroids and even some medications for the treatment of
Type 2 diabetes. What’s more, children born to mothers on these drugs may be genetically prone to weigh more as they grow up, Lofton
5. Sugar Highs
calories are not created equal. “One hundred calories from sugar affects your body a
lot differently than 100 calories from protein,” Lofton says. Translation:
Sugar spikes your blood sugar to increase the amount of calories you store in your
fat cells, but protein helps build muscle to keep your metabolism revved. And
according to the new Obesity
Research & Clinical Practice study, between 1971 and 2008, carbohydrate intake increased 10 to 14
percent while protein intake decreased 5 to 9 percent. Meanwhile, in
1999, the average American consumed a
record-high average of 155 pounds of added sugar per year, according to the
United States Department of Agriculture.