Cris LaBossiere

Cris LaBossiere
Strength training and mountain biking. My two favorites

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mealy-mouthed placations about obesity don't help

Let's get a few things straight right off the top

Fat gain happens when we eat too much.  Nothing else can cause fat gain.

We love overeating. Eating too much is a central theme in our culture.

Eating healthy is seen as a crushing blow to our enjoyment of eating too much.

Fat loss only occurs when we eat fewer calories than we burn off, but eating too much is hard to stop for many reasons, which is why fat loss can be challenging, even if we exercise (which we should).

Being overweight does not mean we're stupid, lazy, or whatever unfair, mean, denigrating prejudice is applied to being overweight.

Statistics Canada has released another report on childhood obesity.

The report sates that nearly 1/3 of 5 to 17 year old's are overweight or obese, with nearly two to three times more boys than girls being overweight. This problem can be solved and I believe will be solved some day, hopefully sooner than later.

While the study concludes that eating and exercise habits contribute to weight gain, the authors noted that the study did not investigate the complexity of variables that influence eating and exercise behavior.

The singular cause of obesity is overeating. Nothing else can cause fat gain. You can quote me on that.

Fat in fat cells can't come from nowhere.  We have to eat more than we need in order for the body to store the extra unused food as fat in our fat cells.  The excess fat will stay there until we burn it off by consuming fewer calories than we expend which places the energy demand on our stored energy (stored fat).  Little by little we can reduce our fat stores through decreasing energy intake and increasing energy expenditure.

The paths to overeating are numerous and complex. We know that poor sleep can drive up appetite and drive down satiety.  We know that large meals can alter hormone regulation that governs hunger and satiety.  It's a diabolical cyclical trap; the more we overeat the more we adapt to overeating and reward seeking through overeating.

We know that food composition, specifically high concentrations of sugar, fat, and salt, excite reward centers in the brain making eating feel more rewarding than normal, causing us to seek out repeating this rewarding feeling from eating more food.

We know that some medications are appetite stimulants causing people on these meds to feel more hungry than usual and to eat more in response.

Overeating is socialized; when we celebrate we often include eating a lot of food while we celebrate.

Overeating is situational; we'll eat food at a movie even though the physical act of watching a movie doesn't require extra food energy to get through the movie.

Food can be mood altering.  If we're feeling down we can temporarily feel good by eating.

When reports like this recent Stats Canada news release come out, one of the more popular topics discussed is the influence of screen time on our health, specifically our fitness level and our weight.

There is nothing about being in the proximity of a screen of any kind that directly affects our fat cells causing them to be filled with fat.

You cannot gain fat watching video games or watching TV.

Video screens don't deposit fat into our fat cells.

If a 15 year old played video games for 5 to 10 hours everyday but didn't overeat, that is, they did not consume more food energy than they expended during a day with lot's of video game playing, there would be no excess food energy to store.  No fat gain would occur.

For sure any person who spends so much time on their butt and not being physically active is not going to be very fit or healthy, but they wont gain fat if calories in/ out are balanced. I'm not advocating balanced calories and mega screen time, in case you were wondering.

Personally my favorite way to watch movies at home is while I'm on my bike trainer in front of the big screen TV.  No, I don't just sit idol on the bike, I ride it for the length of the movie.  My movie choices are governed mostly by time; I want more screen time because for me, more screen time means more training time.  I typically look for movies that are around two hours. If I can't fill two hours with a movie, I'll watch TV or listen to music to make up the extra time.

It's true that energy expenditure is less when seated in front of a screen, unless you make the adjustments that I mentioned above.  If a person decreases their physical activity through more screen time, but does not also decrease their food intake to compensate, they would be eating too much for how active (or inactive) they are, causing a food energy surplus, which is stored as fat.

As a side note, but a pertinent side note, if I burned off 2000 calories riding my bike watching a screen but at the end of the day consumed more calories than I expended I would gain fat (I've done this so it's not just a dumb science theory).  In such a scenario, which I have managed to reproduce more times than I care to admit, I will have eaten too much.  Only overeating can cause fat gain, and this can occur no matter how much exercise you do or don't do.

Only overeating can cause fat gain, but there are many ways that we upset our food energy balance. Sort of.. there are many ways that we increase our reward seeking association with food and decrease reward association with physical activity.

Although there is a tonne of public information on how to lose fat and not gain fat, surprisingly there is not a lot of straight talk.  There is a lot of mealy-mouthed misdirection trying apparently to unravel the complex apparatus that causes obesity.

It must be a lack of government programs

It must be some special genetic variable that isn't understood yet

It must be changing times where we behave differently than generations before, but we don't understand this behavior yet

No, no, and no.  Only overeating causes fat gain. And we love overeating.

That's the elephant in the room.  We'll talk about screen time, we'll talk about hormones, complex behavior patterns, food composition, etc, etc, which is important I believe, but don't touch the golden cow, don't bring down the holy grail of personal and social reward.. do not talk about eating too much.

We're not eating too much!  Nooo, seriously, we don't make giant calorie bomb meals to sell at restaurants, we don't overeat at tailgate parties, we don't overeat at family dinners..

It wasn't eating too much that caused my fat gain!  No, no.. uh.. it was an earthquake.. a terrible flood.. locus!!  It wasn't my fault, I swear to God!

Yes, I like the movie The Blues Brothers, for those who got that. Here's the clip..

The direction I'd like to see addressing the obesity epidemic go is this; a greater consistency of recognizing that only overeating causes fat gain, and that we place far too much importance on overeating being the reward anchor in our society.

Cut the crap with prejudice towards people due to body composition.  Stop calling people names if they're overweight or underweight.  It's hard enough trying to overcome the challenges that cause us to eat too much or too little.  People don't need the extra stress caused by judgmental chumps.

 If you gained fat it's because you ate too much.  Stop eating too much and you'll stop gaining fat.  Tried that but can't stop eating too much?  That's understandable.  Eating too much is very difficult to stop doing, but don't be wondering where the fat came from, it came from eating too much. Now work on discovering what drives you to overeat, and changing the behavior by understanding the motivation and practicing new behaviors with new reward associations.

It ain't easy to stop overeating.  I know this personally.  I used to overeat like a fiend. The only reason I didn't become obese is because I had two addictions.. eating too much and exercising too much.  Those two like each-other a lot. I kicked both habits though. I eat way less, and exercise far less, but I do eat healthy and exercise healthy.  I race mountain bikes and I do manage to win the odd race so I'm doing ok fitness wise.

Cris LaBossiere gold medal 2012 Manitoba Mountain Bike Provincial Championships men's 40+ sport

No comments:

Post a Comment