Sharon Ufberg, DC examines the problem of obesity in our society and discusses the roles diet and body image play in the war against weight.

by Sharon Ufberg, DC

It hardly appears that being thin is in.  Recently announced statistics from the well respected Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta puts the United States population getter fatter by the minute, with over two thirds of its people considered overweight using the most accurate measurement of a person’s body fat using the body mass index (BMI) measurement of body fat for children and adults.

Diets full of processed foods, red meat, high fat and high sugar diets have been the target of blame for years now.  Our increasingly sedentary lifestyles are the other major contributing cause of all the obesity woes.

But what if we have been placing the blame on the wrong factor all this time? Several animal and human studies have been reported to suggest that it could be your mother’s fault entirely.  How little your mother ate or if she smoked while you were in the womb has been shown to be a determining factor for fatter children and adults. If this new research is true, then it is the womb that is the environment that is most responsible for influencing a person’s body composition.

We all know what a significant role our genetically determined physiology plays in the way our bodies function. Recently, physicians from Harvard Medical School’s obesity prevention program have begun to discuss the precise way the brain controls the mechanisms that keep people from losing weight. They are talking about a genetically determined weight range for an individual that is within approximately 30 pounds. As a person attempts to reduce or exceed that predetermined weight, the brain makes metabolic adjustments to prevent it.

So while diet and exercise do matter, the scientists are telling us that these influences are not alone determining our weight. It seems body composition is also genetically determined by our DNA and programmed by our brain.

This theory would be great if we didn’t have SO many morbidly obese people walking around. Are all of these people genetically programmed to be overweight? Did all their mothers smoke or undereat during pregnancy? I doubt it. The gradual but steadily growing sedentary lifestyles coupled with the increase in portion size over time must also be significant factors in the ever growing American waistline.

We as practitioners can be a positive voice in the battle of the bulge. Start by trying to steer your patients away from the diet gurus and quick weight loss processed food plans.  Giving our patients specific recommendations about portion control, organic and natural food sources and appropriate diet suggestions are some of the best nutritional advice they will get to maintain a proper body weight.

Maybe thin is only in on fashion runways and beauty magazines, but maintaining a healthy body never goes out of style.


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