A recent study has shown that losing weight nowadays is more challenging than decades ago, even when dietary intake and physical exercise are at similar values. This is because of a variety of hampering factors, such as stress, pollution and the widespread use of chemicals and hormones.
Research was conducted by experts at York University’s Faculty of Health, in Toronto. It analyzed information provided by the National Health and Nutrition Survey, and the findings were published in the Obesity Research & Clinical Practice.
Scientists aggregated self-reported dietary data from 36,400 American adults, recorded between 1971 and 2006. This information was compared against physical activity frequency data pertaining to 14,400 adults, from 1988 to 2006.
Calculations were also made regarding the subjects’ body mass index (BMI), based on their age, height and weight. It was discovered that for people who have had identical eating habits and lifestyles, BMIs are around 2.3 points higher now than in 1988.
Normally, healthy BMIs are between 18.5 and 24.9, those between 25 and 29.9 suggest the person is overweight, while a score above 30 points to obesity. Therefore, even those extra couple of points make can make the difference between healthy weight and an unhealthy index.
Moreover, for the same amount of food intake, respondents were approximately 10% heavier in 2008 than in 1971. It didn’t matter if the individual consumed the same number of calories, exercised just as extensively and included the same percentage of fat and protein into the daily diet.
It appears that kilos are still more easily added nowadays, and weight loss efforts suffer greater setbacks. It comes as no surprise therefore that obesity rates have been escalating since the 1980’s, even if food consumption has stayed pretty much the same.
“Our study results suggest that if you are 40 years old now, you’d have to eat even less and exercise more than if you were a 40 year old in 1971, to prevent gaining weight”, declared Professor Jennifer Kuk of the School of Kinesiology and Health Science.
That is because weight management is a complex process, which can be affected by outside factors in the environment, and also by other elements in our lifestyle. For example, weight fluctations can occur due to stress, genetics, medication use, pollution, meal timing and circadian rhythm perturbations.
Prescription medication like antidepressants or steroids can sometimes lead to weight gain, which is also favored by increased consumption of hormone-laden food products. Also, since our dietary intake involves a high amount of sugar and meat, intestinal bacteria are disrupted, greatly affecting metabolic health.
Sleeping too little is another contributing factor, since it makes the body release a hormone called ghrelin (“the hunger hormone”), which heightens appetite, causing greater food consumption during the already extended waking hours. Also, pesticides and other chemicals which have become ubiquitous lately further damage the endocrine system, causing extra weight.
Therefore, regardless of people’s best efforts, it may be harder than ever before to actually lose weight and maintain a trim figure. As a result, experts suggest adopting a more tolerant and empathetic attitude towards obese and overweight people.
Millennials are up against a real challenge lately when it comes to staying fit, and having extra pounds doesn’t prove that they are self-indulgent or indolent.
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