October 2, 2015

"A given person, in 2006, eating the same amount of calories, taking in the same quantities of macronutrients like protein and fat, and exercising the same amount..."

"... as a person of the same age did in 1988 would have a BMI that was about 2.3 points higher. In other words, people today are about 10 percent heavier than people were in the 1980s, even if they follow the exact same diet and exercise plans. 'Our study results suggest that if you are 25, you’d have to eat even less and exercise more than those older, to prevent gaining weight,' Jennifer Kuk, a professor of kinesiology and health science at Toronto’s York University, said in a statement. 'However, it also indicates there may be other specific changes contributing to the rise in obesity beyond just diet and exercise.'"

From an article in The Atlantic called "Why It Was Easier to Be Skinny in the 1980s."

If I had to guess what's going on here, I'd guess that there is inaccuracy in estimating the calories consumed and the weights of the individuals in question, especially those people from 30 years ago. But Kuk's guesses are: 1. exposure to chemicals in the environment, 2. prescription drugs, and 3. our "microbiomes" — gut bacteria — have changed.

90 comments:

CStanley said...

I don't know why people have such a hard time understanding that the body is not a simple thermodynamic machine. He equation that weight equals calories in minus calories expended is much too simplistic.

That can easily be proven by looking at a myriad of endocrine disorders and the side effects of drugs like steroids.

Spiros Pappas said...

I think it's just that people are smoking less.

William said...

Why have they not factored global warming into the equation? I'm sure further research wll show that genetically modified foods are far more fattening than authentically real foodstuffs.

Peter said...

This article seemed heavy on speculation and light on hard facts.

Perhaps there's enough here for further investigation, but as it stands it's a long way from sufficient to support its conclusion.

BN said...

Spirros, I was going to say the same thing. But nobody will ever admit that.

On the other hand, I also agree with Ann, "science" these days is just dressed up guessing.

SGT Ted said...

I don't think they know what they are talking about. What they claim they did as an experiment is inherently unproveable.

.

MadisonMan said...

There are a lot of coulds and maybes in that article.

CStanley said...

This article seemed heavy on speculation and light on hard facts.

On the other hand, I also agree with Ann, "science" these days is just dressed up guessing.

Who do these scientists think they are, coming up with hypotheses?

Mid-Life Lawyer said...

Follow the government grant money.

Beldar said...

This week's trend:

New politically correct meme of "fatshaming" + junk science + possibility of illustrative photos including both attractive and scantily clad people and celebrities who've added pounds = Clickbait!

JSD said...

The Atlantic specializes in “boob bait for progressive bubbas”. How did they measure people exercise calorie burn rate? Brain activity is a tremendous calorie burner. I don’t think people use their brain as much as they used to. Everything is spoon fed in the digital age. In the not too distant past, people would read for knowledge and for entertainment. Reading and thinking are an active process. It burns calories. Watching video is a passive process. It’s little wonder that people have become fat and lazy.

Coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laslo Spatula said...

"But Kuk's guesses are: 1. exposure to chemicals in the environment, 2. prescription drugs, and 3. our "microbiomes" — gut bacteria — have changed."

And #4: Climate Change.

I am Laslo.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Damn, I too agree with Spiros Pappas. Smoking has decreased massively since the 80s. So, incidentally, has meth use -- not among tweakers, obviously, but among bored housewives and the like, who once used pseudephedrine to keep alert (and skinny).

My husband once, in the 90s, attended a conference on Tartini in Padua. He was one of the few non-Italians there. Surrounded by very young Italian musicologists, mostly female, all of them babes. And every last one of them smoked. Coincidence? I think not.

Ambrose said...

Still doubting that climate change is real?

CStanley said...

Those who are positing that decreased smoking had a role are really just considering one more subcategory of the hypothesis about drugs.

Jane the Actuary said...

In the comments, a reader pointed out that amounts of time spent on the intentional activity of "exercising" may be constant while actual amounts of movement during the day may be rather different, for reasons from driving vs. walking to remote controls, etc.

traditionalguy said...

Quitting smoking does restore the taste of good food. Gourmet eating can be the next addiction... And paired with the right bottled wine... and cooling from Julia Child's recipes.

Ambrose said...

While a climate change joke is always a great way to start the morning, I agree with Spiros and Michelle about the decline in smoking (including second hand smoking)is ignored. The timelines certainly match - and another thing I have noticed. Look how the obesity problem and the decline in smoking in Europe both lagged behind the US almost in tandem.

CStanley said...

I think Janes point is valid although when you consider the time period I'm not sure that much has changed. Maybe increased use of computers and video games has made leisure time more sedentary on average though.

tim in vermont said...

I was around during the eighties. I am sure that they have the exercise part wrong. After all, we actually had to get off the couch to change the channel. Nobody had smartphones to increase their sitting time, and it was uphill both ways walking to school.

BDNYC said...

This is a very clever comparison, since most people who struggle with weight now can remember not struggling as much with weight in the 80s. Of course they were decades younger back then, and likely more active physically. But this comparison resonates deeply with them on an emotional, non-scientific level. They are receptive to the scientific findings, such as they are.

I would say that a large share of the people who control scientific funding were in their teens or twenties in the 80s.

tim in vermont said...

When we played a game, we played cards. Even playing cards requires more physical exercise than just moving your thumbs or whatever to play Angry Birds

Patrick said...

Sounds about right. I'm almost exactly 10% heavier note than I was in the 80s! Ha, maybe not their point.

Scott said...

"If I had to guess what's going on here, I'd guess that there is inaccuracy in estimating the calories consumed and the weights of the individuals in question, especially those people from 30 years ago."

Bingo. Especially if you're asking people to self-report their own data. 30 years ago, diet and exercise weren't as politicized as they are now. So of course people are going to lie a little bit about it these days.

tim in vermont said...

But the young people who are into fitness today are far more fit than we were, even those into fitness then.

Anonymous said...

Silly. Everyone back then smoked.

Smoking makes you thinner. It doesn't merely suppress your appetite, it's a stimulant. Your body is stimulated to do more, think more, fidget more. Even excrete more.

Ever notice how much more people drank too? Lots of carbs in the old hard alcohol we drank.

Karen of Texas said...

Endocrine disruptors are much more prevalent in the environment now then they were in the 80s. And they have had 30ish years to accumulate in the various places our bodies like to store them. Tap water isn't as "clean" as you need to believe it is. With accumulation plus continuous onslaught comes disruption. Get your glands and thus hormones disrupted? Bam! Gain some weight. I speak as someone now fighting the lovely autoimmune illness known as Hashimoto's. Don't forget, gene susceptibility can play a role.

rhhardin said...

It's the fish oil. We're turning into Eskimos.

Jane the Actuary said...

Folks, the article isn't comparing individuals, but attempts to compare similarly situated (eat-the-same, exercise-the-same, same-aged) individuals from various points in the study. In 1980, they asked 20 year olds how much they ate and exercised. in 2015, they asked other 20 year olds the same question.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Sadly but not surprisingly, the Atlantic article itself is essentially content free.
And since the study authors 1) think it's reasonable to use BMI as a proxy for overweight, and 2) don't mention (or at least it is not reported in the article) any margin of error, I can't be bothered to plow through their original paper. Anyone can toss out hypotheses; that's barely Step 1 in good science.
On Jane's comment, I strongly agree. There simply is no comparing the level of "casual" physical activity day-to-day now, versus in the 70's and 80's. Note that the internet, and widespread, constant non-work computer use, did not really even start to become a thing until the 90's. Back in '85 it was still things like Compuserve and BBS and usenet, which were pretty much techie-only activities.

Ann Althouse said...

Eating in restaurants... the same foods have far more calories... lots of butter added to everything. I learned that reading "Kitchen Confidential," by Anthony Bourdain.

Charlie Currie said...

I think having to get up and walk to the TV to change the channel and then stand there to see if what's on the next station is what you want to watch and having to slap the side of the TV a couple times to get it to stop flickering burned more calories than have been accounted for in this study.

Unknown said...

deniers are fat.

Gabriel said...

The equation that weight equals calories in minus calories expended is much too simplistic.

Physical conservation laws guarantee that the weight you gain cannot be greater than the weight you eat.

A pound of fat physically contains about 3500 kCal. However complicated the human body may be, you cannot possibly gain more than a pound of fat over a period of time if your diet exceeds your metabolic needs by that much over a period of time.

You might gain less, but you can't gain more.

Whenever I hear this I always recast it in terms of debt:

The equation that debt equals income in minus dollars expended is much too simplistic.

Diet and weight are like income and debt except they don't come with statements. How common is it, in an office, for two people making the same salary and living roughly the same lifestyle to have drastically different levels of debt? It's easy then to see the fallacy.

Yes, there's more going on than dollars in vs dollars out, just like with diet and weight. But you can't go into debt without spending more than you make and you can't gain weight without eating more than you can metabolize.

Jay Vogt said...

I think I can clear this up for everyone.

It's patently obvious that the introduction of and subsequent increased consumption of weaponized suger in the form of high fructose corn syrup to any population leads to weight gain.

There . . .

SJ said...

@Gabriel,

While it is true that it is impossible to gain weight by under-eating, it is also true that it is hard to lose weight by under-eating.

The human body will reduce it natural metabolism rate when food intake is reduced for extended periods of time. Almost as if the metabolism has no idea whether a person is overweight or underweight, but it does react as if a month of reduced food-intake means that food will be hard to come by for the rest of the year.

Anonymous said...

Well, Rx drugs are huge and definitely affect weight. They affect how your GI system processes food, etc. Even if you weigh the same, they can make you look bloated.

Gabriel said...

@SJ:The human body will reduce it natural metabolism rate when food intake is reduced for extended periods of time.

That's true, but fat requires calories in order to maintain itself, it's not passive storage.

Yes everyone knows it is difficult to lose weight, but with a reduced diet it's just a matter of time.

The problem is that people find sticking to diets very difficult, for any number reasons beyond their control. But you can't blame the thermodynamics of the human body for that.

Gabriel said...

@SOJO: Even if you weigh the same, they can make you look bloated.

They can't summon a pound of fat out of thin air. They can certainly affect you in such a way as to make your normal diet cause you to gain weight, but they can't create fat out of calories you don't consume.

chickelit said...

Gabriel said...Physical conservation laws guarantee that the weight you gain cannot be greater than the weight you eat.

I used to believe that too and even argued it as you do. But you're forgetting that fat is stored in cells and that cells are mostly water. So, the more fat cells you grow, the more zero-calorie water you will sequester.

I'm not talking about the easy-to-lose water weight gain; I'm talking about the water that suffuses and swaddles the fat cells -- stuff that is hard to shed unless the cells shrink in number and die.

Gabriel said...

@chickelit:But you're forgetting that fat is stored in cells and that cells are mostly water. So, the more fat cells you grow, the more zero-calorie water you will sequester.

I spoke specifically of a pound of fat only. Yes, that pound + some percentage of water is the reading on the scale. But "weight" is not juts the reading on the scale.

Get on the scale, drink 20 oz of water and watch your weight change. That's not what we mean.

We're talking about by people put on pounds of fat, and it's because they eat more than they need to, that's the fundamental reason. They may not be easily able to affect how much they need to eat, no one disputes that. They may not be able to easily gauge how much they are eating either, no one disputes that.

But this discussion is starting to take on pseudoscientific superstitions. We can't even start on a problem until we see it clearly.

Theranter said...

Interesting that synthetic hormones/birth control (the pill, DepoProvera, IUD's that release hormones)are not mentioned.

It is rude, but I couldn't help but notice in the pictures from the Oregon College tragedy, many of the young women are very large. It just doesn't make sense. In one of the articles it states that the average age of students there is late 20's, which means many of those women have probably been on birth control since they were 13, so for at least what, 10-15 years? It must have something to do with it.

But that doesn't fit the lefty narrative now does it? So it must be GMO's, AGW, etc.?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...If I had to guess what's going on here, I'd guess that there is inaccuracy in estimating the calories consumed and the weights of the individuals in question, especially those people from 30 years ago.

Oh no, the Professor is an obesity denier! You can't question the accuracy of older/disputed/difficult to verify measurements or proxy measurements when they support a model, Professor. If you do then you hate science, or something. Tree rings from centuries ago vs. self-reported eating habits...it's all data, and you aren't allowed to question its accuracy and usage. Denier!

Gabriel said...

@Theranter: I couldn't help but notice in the pictures from the Oregon College tragedy, many of the young women are very large. It just doesn't make sense.

It does. The confounding variable you are seeking is "low income". That's who attends community college and that's who tend to be more obese.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Gabriel said...Physical conservation laws guarantee that the weight you gain cannot be greater than the weight you eat.

Well, physical conservation laws guarantee that the weight you gain cannot be greater than the weight of everything you consume, yes--but that includes air.
A gallon of gas weighs about 6lbs but after combustion produces around 20lbs of exhaust.

chickelit said...

Get on the scale, drink 20 oz of water and watch your weight change. That's not what we mean.

That's not what I meant either. I'm saying that weight gain is caused not just by the weight of food eaten; it is also caused by water sequestered to support fat cells. This is distinct from water guzzled before weighing in, and also from water lost through sweat of exertion. It is water that is integral to a healthy living fat cell. It doesn't come from food we eat in your simplistic zero sum analysis; it mainly comes from drinking fluids.

Anonymous said...

Gabriel,

The thing you miss is that, unlike your debt example, there are a lot of hidden variables.

The actions of your microbiome are one of those hidden variables. The actions of your hormones are another.

If someone deposited an extra thousand dollars a month into your bank account, you'd notice. And if that money stopped coming, you'd notice. And you could show the evidence of that to someone else. But your microbiome can have a greater effect than that thousand a month, and the only way to "notice" is that you were doing the same things, and are now getting fatter.

Your starting point, the assumption that there is ,over any sort of long term, a simple linear relationship between "calories in", "activities", and "weight gain / loss" is false. At least partially because it relies on the assumption that "all other things remaining equal", and the one thing we now know for sure is that varying those inputs makes "all other things" change.

chickelit said...

The point of this post is that there is something else at play. My guess is exposure to chemical entities not so prevalent 30 years ago.

Gabriel said...

@chickelitI'm saying that weight gain is caused not just by the weight of food eaten; it is also caused by water sequestered to support fat cells.

I understood you. You are saying that a "pound of fat" weighs more than a pound because of water stored along with the cells. Not disputed.

It doesn't come from food we eat in your simplistic zero sum analysis

The fat itself does. Sorry. The actual pound of actual fat comes from eating 3500 kCal in excess of metabolic needs and without witchcraft there is no other place from which it can come. I understand that the actual pound of actual fat will also necessarily bring with it some additional water. Not disputed.

Gabriel said...

@HoddlumDoodlum:A gallon of gas weighs about 6lbs but after combustion produces around 20lbs of exhaust.

Yes, I'm sure obese humans are just sequestering carbon somewhere.

chickelit said...

@Gabriel: I do believe in the laws of thermodynamics which deal with energy and not weight (the later is called conservation of mass). I agree that starving fat cells of energy over time will decrease their numbers.

Gabriel said...

@gregq:Your starting point, the assumption that there is ,over any sort of long term, a simple linear relationship between "calories in", "activities", and "weight gain / loss" is false.

I made no such assumption.

This is what I said:

calories in excess of metabolism >= calories of fat gained

Or, if you prefer

calories of fat gained <= calories in excess of metabolism

No linear relationship assumed. What I posted explicitly allows for people to eat like hogs and not gain weight.

It does not, however, allow for people to gain weight through witchcraft.

Gabriel said...

@gregq: the only way to "notice" is that you were doing the same things, and are now getting fatter.

Here you are just repeating what I have been saying all along. If you eat in excess of your metabolic needs you will put on fat. I am astounded that you think you are contradicting me.

I have explicitly acknowledged this scenario in my comments. If something which you do not control reduces your metabolic needs, and your diet does not adjust, you will put on pounds of fat.

CStanley said...

Gabriel you have introduced a straw man. No one is saying that intake of excessive calories doesn't effect weight gain. There is obviously a correlation- but it's not a simple linear correlation. The body absorbs food components differently under different circumstances, and once absorbed the calories are processed differently under different circumstances.

CStanley said...

I have explicitly acknowledged this scenario in my comments. If something which you do not control reduces your metabolic needs, and your diet does not adjust, you will put on pounds of fat.

But that is the point- there are things that reduce metabolic needs (and some that increase them, like nicotine.) and there may be some widespread things that are doing that to a lot of people now, compared with 30-40 years ago.

chickelit said...

Yes, I'm sure obese humans are just sequestering carbon somewhere.

Americans out-sequester every other nation on earth. I did the math and it's surprisingly simple ;)

Gabriel said...

@CStanley:No one is saying that intake of excessive calories doesn't effect weight gain.

I'm afraid there are a lot of people who do think that.

There is obviously a correlation- but it's not a simple linear correlation

Not disputed.

But however much excess fat you carry, at a minimum, that is how much you ate in excess of your metabolic needs. You ate AT LEAST that much extra, whether it's your fault or not, whatever else is going on. It is this fact that is getting lost in the discussion. Maybe you ate ten times as much as that fat represents, and maybe another person only had to eat twice as much, and that's where your argument comes in on what could be going on that's not just calories in vs calories out.

And if you find yourself gaining weight, reducing your diet is the most effective thing you will be able to do. Exercise burns a very small number of calories compared to just not eating something. And I understand that reducing your diet is incredibly difficult for most people.

The only reason these discussions get confused is because people think diet should be easy to control and when it isn't it's assumed to be some kind of personal or moral failing.

But if you keep track of the calories you eat, and reduce them when you gain weight, you can solve the problem. It's incredibly difficult, but that doesn't mean it won't work. Physical law guarantees that there is some level of diet that will do it.

Anonymous said...

Gabriel said...

Yes everyone knows it is difficult to lose weight, but with a reduced diet it's just a matter of time.


Sure, if I stick you in a concentration camp, and only feed you 1000 calories a day, you will lose weight. But before you lose that weight, the hormones that cause hunger cravings will go up, and the hormones that control your energy level will go down, and in every way your body will fight like hell to avoid losing weight. Which is why it pretty much takes being put in a situation where you have absolutely no choices before "losing weight by reducing calories" will actually work in a human being, rather than in a nice thermodynamic model that has no actual connection to reality.

The point is that you can have absolutely no changes in calories in and amount of activity, and still have your weight either go up, or go down, depending solely upon factors that have essentially nothing to do with those two metrics.

Roger Sweeny said...

The equation that weight equals calories in minus calories expended is much too simplistic. CStanley

A pound of fat physically contains about 3500 kCal. However complicated the human body may be, you cannot possibly gain more than a pound of fat over a period of time if your diet exceeds your metabolic needs by that much over a period of time. You might gain less, but you can't gain more. Gabriel

Those two statements are perfectly compatible (as the two parts of the last sentence make clear).

Gabriel said...

@gregq:The point is that you can have absolutely no changes in calories in and amount of activity, and still have your weight either go up, or go down, depending solely upon factors that have essentially nothing to do with those two metrics.

And the same is true of debt. You can have no change in your income, no change in your spending habits, and interest and penalties imposed by others can increase your indebtedness.

Yet we never tell people they shouldn't bother to budget.

Which is why it pretty much takes being put in a situation where you have absolutely no choices before "losing weight by reducing calories" will actually work in a human being,

It works all the time. It's hard to make it work forever.

Roger Sweeny said...

The point of this post is that there is something else at play. My guess is exposure to chemical entities not so prevalent 30 years ago.

Interesting that a lot of commentators say this and a lot of commentators say it's the reduction in exposure to chemical entities (especially cigarette smoke) that is responsible.

CStanley said...

Roger- that's simply because some chemicals influence weight in one direction, and some in the other. The hypothesis is that there been a net gain in the type of chemicals that make it easier to gain weight.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Gabriel said...Yes, I'm sure obese humans are just sequestering carbon somewhere.

You kid, but the weight you actually lose leaves your body when you exhale! (some as heat, too, but mostly through respiration waste products)

Just Mike said...

cocaine and cigarettes. case closed

EMD said...

Just MIke just beat me to the cocaine comment.

Bright Lights, Big City, Lower BMI!

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Ann,

Eating in restaurants... the same foods have far more calories... lots of butter added to everything. I learned that reading "Kitchen Confidential," by Anthony Bourdain.

It's not so much the butter (mmmmm, butter) as sheer portion sizes, which are much larger than they were in the 80s. If you eat out a lot, and are determined to eat everything on your plate, you will gain weight. I finally convinced myself that, no, eating everything in sight won't help starving children in China or anywhere else, but that was only when I physically couldn't eat any more.

tim in vermont said...

Let's have a thread on chemtrails next!

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

theranter,

Interesting that synthetic hormones/birth control (the pill, DepoProvera, IUD's that release hormones)are not mentioned.

It is rude, but I couldn't help but notice in the pictures from the Oregon College tragedy, many of the young women are very large. It just doesn't make sense.


In Salem it's the same, actually. I am somewhat overweight myself, but a lot of the young women here make me feel small.

Gabriel's point about "low income" is obviously not the whole story, and I agree with you that chemicals added to our diets, including hormones, factor into it. (And why would having little income make you fat, anyway? I mean, it might if you were subsisting entirely on pizza and beer, but ISTR that that behavior isn't confined to community college students. I bet the pizza/beer regimen is as common at Stanford as anywhere else, and if anything more than at Umpqua, which is basically in a small town in the middle of nowhere.)

And if you're 200+ lbs. and female in your mid-20s, your parents absolutely bear some responsibility. Even if it's "parent," singular.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

tim in vermont,

Let's have a thread on chemtrails next!

Err ... let's not.

Anonymous said...

Have you noticed how huge chicken drumsticks are? What could make them so huge? Hormones, growth hormones.

Do you think you also eat those hormones when you eat your chickens? You could stay eating the same amount of food, even fewer calories, you will get obese anyway.

Nichevo said...

Althouse, I think restaurants also used lots of butter in the thirties or whenever you were born. KC says butter, yes, but Bourdain did not IIRC claim that was new.

Dr Weevil said...

Don't forget driving, a sedentary activity that has gotten even more sedentary with the spread of power steering, power windows, automatic transmissions, and even little things like not having to get out and crouch four times to check your tires, as long as the 'low tire pressure' light on the dashboard doesn't come on.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

elkh1,

Chicken drumsticks, I'm afraid, get "huge" mostly based on the age of the chicken. Now turkeys, I'll grant you; modern commercial (i.e., not "heritage") breeds are basically designed as breast-meat delivery systems.

Paco Wové said...

'Which is why it pretty much takes being put in a situation where you have absolutely no choices before "losing weight by reducing calories" will actually work in a human being'

I dropped about 10% of my body weight last year by the simple technique of slowing down my eating, and asking myself, "Self, do I really need that second helping|sandwich|pie slice|etc.?" It was quite effective. I can't believe I'm that much of an outlier.

Kyzernick said...

It can be done even faster. People frown upon it and it's become sort of cliche, but buying and actually using cardio exercise equipment is one of the best decisions someone can make. Even if on a busy day you can only do 10 minutes, it's better than not, especially combined with sensible diet. Biking and occasional running are good too, but tough/stupid in bad weather. These knees hate impact so I got an elliptical secondhand, bought from someone who claimed he'd used it twice, and definitely looked the part.

Gabriel said...

@Michelle Dulak Thompson:And why would having little income make you fat, anyway?

Reliance on convenience foods. Low income people typically do not cook as often.

Convenience foods are more expensive than meals from scratch--a single serving of potato chips is about the same price as a whole pound of potatoes. But they take a lot less time, and you can buy them with less worry about them going bad before you used them.

And since the people you live with are not as likely to share meal times with you, cooking is even less worth the effort.

Community college students are more likely to be working full or part time and so cooking is an even small share of their time budget, if they're going to class.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Man-made climate change may play a role--

I saw an article a few years ago arguing that better insulation, AC, and heat is making us fatter because we spend more time at ideal temperature. So our bodies don't have to work as hard to maintain our temps.

Anonymous said...

If reading burns more calories in your brain than watching videos maybe watching black-and-white TV burns more calories than watching color TV. You have to imagine the colors.

Gabriel said...

@gregq:Sure, if I stick you in a concentration camp, and only feed you 1000 calories a day, you will lose weight.

Sign of the times that 1000 calories per day is automatically considered concentration camp rations.

That's 15 hard-boiled eggs, or six cans of tuna fish, or eight potatoes, or ten apples, or 200 cups of lettuce. True it is only half a pound of bread. But if you are eating fresh fruits and vegetables and getting your protein from fish and eggs 1000 calories can really be a lot of food. Hardly gulag rations, though not as cheap as the equivalent in wheat, rice or pasta.

Gabriel said...

@Grundoon:If reading burns more calories in your brain than watching videos maybe watching black-and-white TV burns more calories than watching color TV. You have to imagine the colors.

If you let a car idle for an hour you probably burned about a gallon of gas. If you drove thirty miles in an hour you probably burned about a gallon of gas.

I'm pretty sure the brain's overhead is high enough that any additional expenditure due to "mental effort" is not measurable.

OGWiseman said...

This is the dumbest article. Self-reported "data" over an arbitrarily defined period, explained with nothing more than guesses that ignore the obvious: Self-reported studies are not accurate or dependable.

Here's what I know: When I ate whatever I wanted all the time, I got fat. When I started counting calories and ate less than I burned, I lost weight. Now I'm not fat anymore, and it's thanks to admitting that my own behavior actually does control what my body is like.

Edmund said...

There is substantial evidence that your microbiome can slow your metabolism. A controlled experiment with rodents showed that a change in microbiome can cause them to gain weight when fed the same diet and got the same exercise.

Gabriel said...

@EdmundThere is substantial evidence that your microbiome can slow your metabolism.

But it can't summon fat from calories not consumed; again, diet imposes a hard upper limit on the amount of fat you can gain. Your microbiome is eating some of your food, if it eats less and you don't change anything you can expect to put on fat.

jaydub said...

Gabriel not only wins the thread, he laps the field. I use a website called "loseit.com" (free in it's basic form, which is what I use) for weight control. What loseit does is give you an estimated resting calorie intake to maintain your current weight , i.e., any activity other than sitting on the couch uses excess calories over the resting burn rate. Food caloric values are entered for what you eat, and exercise burns are also considered, so that the average net calorie intake determines your expected weight loss/gain if the net is postive (gain) or negative (loss.) I have found this to be right on as regards weight management.

Guildofcannonballs said...

I don't understand the "chemicals added to our diets" locution.

We are not talking about water, which I know is a chemical always having been present in human diets.

So what chemicals to which are we referring?

I was thinking the chemicals in women's reproductive systems that smell of sushi.

And HPV.

Did the damn papilloma strike again? We've seen this enemy before. And he ain't us neither.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Gabriel,

"Low-income people" cook all the time. Check out the kitchen of a poor Chinese or Indian mom, and see what's happening there. It's unlikely to be potato chips.

What you actually mean is that there's a subclass of Americans who do live on junk food, and this is (a) not good for you, period; and (b) leads to weight gain. But we aren't supposed to say that. Nasty. Judgmental. (Also racist, though FWIW every person I saw at Umpqua was white.)

Look, there's neither huge amounts of time nor huge amounts of labor involved in cooking your own food. I do it nearly every day, and it's both cheap and quick. Take your potatoes. You could roast those in an oven for 45 minutes or so while doing something else. If you can't resist temptation for 45 minutes, I think we've discovered the root cause of your low-income-ness, yes?

Tonight: Flank steak with chimichurri sauce over a hash of potatoes, summer squash, green onions, and peas. I admit that this did take about an hour, start to finish, and wasn't especially cheap (flank steak sure isn't what it was 30 years ago). But it wasn't out-of-the-way time-consuming for a frakkin' community college student, either. You're getting a two-year degree. You might as well use some of your copious spare time learning how to live.

viator said...

Peoples increase in BMI are caused by "global warming"

FreddyB said...

I have doubts about the calories in vs calories burned thermodynamic model of weight gain.
1) It assumes that calorie expenditure doesn't vary with intake when it very likely does.
2) It assumes that poop has zero calories. Dog owners know this is very unlikely.

I think it's much more likely that the increase in obesity comes from the change in fat consumption from less fattening animal fats to more fattening plant oils, slashing the Omega 3 to 6 ratio.

Nichevo said...

There is a new drug, I forget what it is, it may be for diabetes, but it advertises that it causes some sugar to not be taken in by the body but to be excreted in the urine. It appears to be a sly reference to weight loss. This again would have literally nothing to do with the amount of calories consumed. Of course, it would relate to the number of calories out. Calories urinated or defecated are just as good for weight loss as calories metabolized in thought, work, or exercise. We know nothing.