Saturday, August 26, 2006

Obesity – Are You Born With It?

Because of the growing number of obesity cases in North America today, many people are asking themselves, “Is my obesity caused by heredity or by affluent lifestyle?” Many scientists believe that every person has a certain body weight set point which the body strives to attain.

This may explain why people reach weight loss plateaus when trying to lose weight. This doesn’t mean however that the set point can’t be adjusted. A change in lifestyle may accomplish this. And that may not necessarily include a reduction in food intake (although in many cases it would). Sometimes a change in food choices and increased exercise participation may be the answer; or a combination of all three.

Certain scientific theories claim a person is born with a set number of fat cells and as calorie consumption exceeds calorie expenditure their fat cells increase in size and the number of cells stay the same. Other studies have suggested that the number and size of cells increase with a positive energy (calorie) balance (although these studies are more controversial).

There’s even a recent study, published in World Science that suggested there is growing evidence that obesity can be contagious. Whatever the case, the fact remains that a person can achieve a certain level of weight loss maintenance with the proper program.

Obesity may be defined as an excess of body fat that has accumulated over time by a positive energy balance (when energy consumption exceeds energy expenditure). All we need to know, in order to reverse this process and help overcome obesity, is we need to create a negative energy balance.

One reason why many people fail to achieve long term weight loss is because they fall prey to the many claims and promises that come from the diet industry. Unfortunately fad diets don’t work for long term weight loss. And many people today don’t want to hear that because they are constantly brainwashed by huge advertising blitzes from the diet industry – telling them the opposite.

And the sad irony is the fact that people fail to achieve meaningful weight loss through fad dieting, while still believing that’s the best way to do so. One reason why they believe so is because most diets promise a quick, easy fix solution or magical formula that usually requires little effort. They appeal to the senses and that’s part of human nature.

Many of these diets tend to confuse people that are already making an effort towards improved lifestyles. The only way to stop the confusion is simply to stop following advice from fad diets. The most important thing to keep in mind is that to lose weight you must burn more calories than you consume. That’s all it is.

With that in mind you must then work on the quality of your diet. You must always strive to improve your food choices. Forget about the low-carb diet, the Glycemic Index diet, and the like. New diets pop up as do new trends, mostly created by the media (and often broadcast inaccurate and misleading information).

Years ago it was the high carb low fat diet. Later the high protein high fat, low carb (Atkins) diet became popular. Then as news came out that saturated and trans fats were linked to chronic diseases such as heart disease, the South Beach and Zone diets came out. The bottom line is that all these diets have the same premise – they are based on calorie restriction – and that’s really what makes them work.

So, try not to get confused with all the new diets constantly coming out on the market. Trends come and go but the the formula behind weight loss and weight gain is always the same. It’s simply based on Input and Output.

The other thing that many people are doing is placing too much emphasis on exercise and often completely ignoring diet. Believing exercise is the answer to weight loss people flock to health clubs or exercise at home while they continue to overeat – and sometimes eat more which they justify by exercising.

That is also wrong. Don’t misunderstand the point here, exercise is very important, not only for weight loss but for general health. The point is not to make the mistake of keying in on one factor while totally disregarding the others.

If you are obese you will need to reduce your daily calorie consumption as well as increase exercise participation. If you are working on one factor alone or both factors insufficiently, you are probably not happy with the results you’re getting. In order to get effective weight loss you must reduce daily food intake and exercise on most days of the week, on a regular basis. There really is no easy way out, yet.

By John Tiniakos

John Tiniakos runs a Weight Loss Help Site, where you can find valuable information and tips on weight loss. John’s latest e-book can be found at
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