Ways that you may have gained weight along with how your food and environment contributed:
“If this were the early 1960s instead of the 2010s, you might not need a weight loss book. Most people were thin then.
Not now. Even with all the dieting we do, more than two thirds of US adults are now overweight, and the rate of obesity has almost tripled since 1960.1
The extra weight isn’t natural, nor is it healthy. It not only affects our looks and physical abilities, it increases our risks of developing diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, high cholesterol, complications of pregnancy, menstrual irregularities, and cancers of the uterus, breast, colon, and kidney
So what is behind this weight gain epidemic?
A Less-Active Lifestyle
Our bodies are designed for manual labor and long-distance walking. Many of us, however, enjoy door-to-door motorized transportation to and from a desk job followed by hours of television or other passive entertainment. Such a lifestyle not only burns few calories but can also encourage us to eat more than we would if we were busy with physical activities.
The Fattening Food Environment
Before processed foods became the norm, our ancestors filled their dinner plates with minimally processed vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Meats were unprocessed and lean. These natural foods, combined with an active lifestyle, promoted a slim, healthy body.
In contrast to the healthy foods enjoyed by our ancestors, the foods on our grocery store shelves today are often highly processed and have added fat and sugar. These processed foods are packed with calories and are so convenient and tempting that it’s easy to eat too much of them.
As a result, the average adult today eats more calories than in past decades, with most of the extra calories coming from carbohydrate-rich foods such as sweets, soft drinks, potato products, pizza, bread, pasta, and white rice.
Foods that Don’t Satisfy
Food processing produces calorie-heavy, low-nutrient, low-fiber foods that digest quickly. These foods leave us with loads of calories, soon-empty stomachs, and cravings for more.
Highly Palatable Foods
Highly palatable is a term used by scientists for foods that taste so good that we are tempted to eat them even when our stomachs are full. Most of these are processed foods high in fat, sugar, or refined flour. Such foods have become more abundant and affordable in recent decades, resulting in greater temptations to overeat. We often eat these foods for comfort or pleasure, not because we are hungry.
Highly palatable foods affect the parts of the brain that are responsible for drug addiction and cravings.6 The authors of a scientific study of the brain’s response to highly palatable foods concluded that “overconsumption of palatable food triggers addiction-like … responses in brain reward circuits and drives the development of compulsive eating.”7 In other words, junk food can be addictive.
While the vegetables, fresh fruits, and whole grains our ancestors ate were high in nutrients and low in calories, the processed foods that fill our grocery store shelves are just the opposite — high in calories and low in nutrients. The result is that a typical meal of modern processed foods has more calories than we need and often too few nutrients. Calorie-heavy foods are believed to be a major factor in the weight gain epidemic.”