While trying to find links to a news item about an Otago University study that concluded with the suggestion of an idiotic tax on goods containing fat, I found another misguided organisation called Fight the Obesity Epidemic and decided to write them a letter to see if I could open some minds.
I was browsing and found your website.
You seem concerned, like me, about the increasing incidence of obesity and its associated diseases of type II diabetes, CVD and others.
There seems to be an assumption, by all the authorities on nutrition, that our obesity is caused by lack of exercise and eating too much. Unfortunately, in spite of multitudes of advice to eat less and exercise more, the authorities, and our country, seem to be fighting in vane. I would put it to you that people are trying to eat less and exercise more but are finding it difficult.
I've done extensive research over the last 2 years because of my own growing obesity and failed attempts at curtailing it. I've looked at the history of our species and what has changed that might have caused our current conundrum. It is evident that our modern diseases related to obesity have largely come about in the last 200 years but something drastic must have happened around 30 years ago because they really started to escalate from then. I've come to some conclusions about what might be the underlying causes of obesity. To test my hypotheses I've embarked on my own n=2 experiment over the last 6 months. (The 2 refers to the experiment being carried out on both my wife and myself.)
To our delight, we have both managed to lose weight. I've gone from 89kg to 77kg in that period and my wife from 89kg to 81kg. We have managed this with minimal effort and no exercise. An added benefit seems to be that we both now have enough extra energy that we have been able to take up cycling together in order to get fit as well.
From my research, it occurred to me that all species, including humans, have been able to regulate their weight naturally without counting calories or worrying about balancing specific macro-nutrients in specific proportions. We can do this regardless of the amount of exercise we may or may not do. If we have high levels of exercise we take on extra energy in our fuel and if we have lower levels we automatically reduce the food intake. We don't have to make a conscious effort to do this as our very cells send out signals that cause us to regulate. I could get into the complex chemical and biological processes to explain this here but choose not to for the sake of brevity. Needless to say they are well written about in science and I can provide links for you to verify if need be.
As far as I can work out, the change that has taken place in our society over the last 200 years that may have been contributing to our poor health, is that because of our industrial revolution, we have had greater access to refined carbohydrates in the form of sugar and flour. All our other foods have been in the same constant supply throughout our evolution, meat, fish, fruit and nuts. Dairy has been around for perhaps 5000 - 10000 years with the advent of agriculture - as has greater access to certain vegetables and some grains.
It appears that bombardment of our cells with continuous levels of highly refined carbohydrates causes our cells to become insulin resistant and this plays havoc with our ability to self-regulate our food intake. A major change in our attitude to food 30 years ago appears to have accelerated the negative effects of refined carbohydrates in our nutrition. It seems that a study carried out by Ancel Keys, linking fat in our diet to increased risk of heart disease, changed the way we advised our populations to eat. As it turns out, the study was flawed and there was no link that could be proven. Nor has any subsequent study been able to prove a causal link.
The last 30 years, I'm sure you'll agree, have been a disaster. We cut back on fat and meat in our diets and increased the refined carbohydrates and sugars - the net effect being to increase our body fat and the associated illnesses. We started blaming foods that have been in our diets for thousands of years for causing our modern illnesses. It seems illogical to me that we didn't first look at the foods that appeared in our recent history.
So, for me and my wife, the experiment has been to remove the foods that the authorities have been recommending that we eat more of - the grains (particularly wheat) - and increase the foods that we've been told to steer clear of - meat, eggs, fats (like butter, cream and saturated animal fats). A bonus from doing this has been that we are not continually feeling hungry. I find that instead of wanting food every 2 hours I can go all day with high levels of energy and ability to concentrate before I get interested in food. It seems that my body is agreeable to this new way of eating and is gradually returning to normal. At 168cm and 89kg in March, I was considered to be obese. I've now got to 77kg and am just on the cusp of overweight and 'normal'.
Based on the results of my experiment and my overall good health, I would urge that you take a serious look at what I've been doing and see if it might suggest a possible new strategy for FOE in giving obese people a new tool for getting healthy. For your information, I have created a small website on which I've put links to all the useful information and studies that I've come across in my own research.
Problem solver from way back. Currently working on the challenge of weight and health. Hence this website.