Seriously? Seems obvious – weight is influenced by what you eat

The New England Journal of Medicine just came out with a study finding that eating potato chips, potatoes, sugar-sweetened beverages, and red meats can lead to weight gain.  As does alcohol use, smoking, inadequate amounts of sleep, and watching tv.  But exercise, eatin vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts and yogurt will decrease your weight.

This seems like an obvious study to me – particularly after my post on Food and Health I wrote last month.  Yet ALL of the news media outlets (like the Today show and the LA times and so many more I cannot count – just do a google search) are reporting this study as if it’s revolutionary…  In fact, a news lead in last night introduced their report of the study with “you are responsible for your own weight gain.”  Really?  Does this need to be said?  How is this news?!

Seriously?  We’ve known that eating healthy and exercise are good for us and bad foods are bad for us for time immemorial.  We’ve known that to keep a healthy weight that we should eat fruits and veggies and exercise regularly and that keeping healthy is important to prevent diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  How can this study be considered so fantastic?

I write about this study today because it points out a fundamental problem with both our culture and our health care system.  In our culture, many are ignorant to how to keep healthy.   Maybe not ignorant, but turning a blind eye?  Still, the fact that a person wouldn’t know the obviousness of your weight being influenced by what you eat shows that education measures need to increase to teach people about nutrition and that we need to encourage more individual responsibility.  In other words, we can’t claim we didn’t know if we teach people (especially our children) and we can’t blame genetics for our own health.  We really are the cause of our own weight gain.

Our health care system takes a part in this too.  Many individuals can’t get into see doctors or nutritionists to get the advice they need to make better lifestyle choices.  Unfortunately, doctors are often the first educators for adults who wonder why they are in poor health, when it should seem pretty obvious.

I may also note, that I find the research an incredible waste of time and money.  It’s a four year study of something that we already know.  I do understand that conducting or repeating obvious studies are needed to reinforce scientific findings (best explained in this article on Physorg.com – ‘Duh’ science: Why researchers spend so much time proving the obvious) but I don’t think this study was necessary or should be considered news at all.  We should all know this.  Seriously, I am disappointed that many don’t.

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Also seeming obvious – there are no quick ways to lose weight.  Even fat substitutes can make you fat (as discussed in this Scientific American podcast).  I worry about the implications of such ignorance.  I hope that it will not continue to represent our culture.

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3 Responses to Seriously? Seems obvious – weight is influenced by what you eat

  1. jenn says:

    red meat does not make you gain weight. Maybe the crappy hormone filled red meat in the grocery stores combined with processed flours like pasta, bread, crackers, and white rice and sugars like soda, cookies, baked goods and potato chips make you gain weight but not red meat. Humans are designed to eat red meat and eggs and vegetables and fruits. We are omnivores. Chickens weren’t always around. We ate red meat thousands of years ago and we should be eating it now too. Did we remove the egg yolks from eggs we found thousands of years ago before we ate them thousands of yrs ago? I don’t think so and they didn’t have eggbeaters either.

    This study shows that humans are completely out of touch with their own bodies and are not able to decipher what is good or bad without studies. I don’t need a study to tell me broccoli is better for me than chocolate. I can feel the difference. I have an innate sense of the fact that one is good for me and the other is not. Instead of studies, we should be teaching children these basic principles that should already be ingrained in their bodies. We should teach them to understand their bodies and let their bodies tell them what is right and wrong. When you eat a pint of ice cream and feel like crap, its not because you need a tums or because you have acid reflux. Get in touch with your body.
    Doctors don’t know much about nutrition and they don’t spend much time talking to their patients about it. Don’t rely on doctors, seek it out yourself.

    • Of course red meat doesn’t make you fat. Neither does the occasional potato chip. Red meat (definitely processed red meat with hormones) isn’t something you should consume all the time. The others, in an ideal world, would not be in our diets at all though.

      We do need to teach our children. It is the adults’ fault that kids are used to eating crud and then don’t know their bodies or that good foods are good for them.

      Finally, doctors don’t know a ton about nutrition. But also obviously people aren’t taking responsibility for their health. Their first lecture may be from a doctor, however limited that information it might be. Regardless, for those who already have damaged their bodies and developed illnesses, its important to consult a doctor to follow these illnesses and any exercise regimen undertaken considering these conditions.

      But we are on the same page. Our culture has developed insanely unhealthy eating habits and we need to learn how to eat healthy again.

  2. JJ says:

    I’m as bewildered as you are. How is this news? Processed starches and sugars = bad. Protein and fruits and veggies and nuts = good. I’m not as healthy or fit as I’d like to be, but at least I know it’s because I don’t consistently eat well and exercise.

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