By Betty Murray
The majority of Americans are overweight. According to the CDC, more than 69 percent of Americans over age 20 are overweight or obese. Nearly one-third of American children and teens are overweight or obese.
What is making us so fat?
Weight gain and weight loss have traditionally been considered a matter of calories in/calories out. That is only one piece of the puzzle.
You may have found that even in cutting fast foods, watching what you eat and exercising more, you aren’t losing any weight. It is possible that our culture’s general inability to lose weight is caused by some scientific factors.
Sugar substitutes. They may not contain calories, but sugar substitutes may play a bigger role in making us fat than sugar itself. A study by researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center found that people who drank two or more diet soft drinks a day gained five times as much weight as those who did not drink diet sodas. Sugar sweeteners can slow metabolism and may actually make you crave more sugary food.
Antibiotics and other weight-inducing drugs in food. Livestock are routinely given antibiotics and other weight-inducing drugs to fatten them up. If the antibiotics are then passed on to humans who eat meat from these livestock, it makes sense that the antibiotics would have the same effect. It is thought that antibiotics alter bacteria in the gut to make nutrient absorption more efficient, thus the explaining the weight gain.
This is not an argument for or against the use of prescription antibiotics in humans, but some researchers say an overuse of prescription antibiotics for humans may also contribute to our weight gain.
Endocrine disruptors. They are everywhere: in canned foods, microwave popcorn bags, thermal receipts that come out of A.T.M.’s, plastics, cosmetics, food packaging, pesticides, antibiotics and artificial sweeteners. These powerful chemicals can trigger hormonal changes that can cause obesity, diabetes, cancer, infertility and even genital deformities. Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, reported that one study found that pregnant women who have higher levels of a common endocrine disruptor are three times more likely to have daughters who grow up to be overweight. Europe and Canada have strict regulations about endocrine disruptors, but so far, the United States has failed to control the dangerous chemicals.
Sadly, in American society today, it may be impossible to entirely avoid exposure to chemicals that make us fat, but it is possible to limit your exposure. Eat local, organic food, avoid the use of plastics — especially food storage containers and drinking cups — and don’t rely on “diet” drinks or food to help you lose weight. If you do, you may actually be doing yourself more harm than good.
Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.